The silent anticipation of another adventure!
Welcome Guest Blogger, Jacqui Murray
Today I have the pleasure of hosting prehistoric fiction author, Jacqui Murray. I’m excited about the release of her latest novel, Natural Selection, which is book #3 in her Dawn of Humanity series. I’ve read and highly recommend the first in this trilogy, Born in a Treacherous Time!
In this post, she’ll tell you about the latest release, but first, please check out the list of actual criticisms and tips that Jacqui’s gleaned from Twitter.
12 Writing Tips and 9 Criticisms I Got from Twitter
Those of you who are either established authors, in-training, or anything in between, you probably already know the learning curve to become a writer is steep and endless. I’ve read a ton of how-to books, attended more than my share of conferences, and currently meet with fellow writers twice a month to discuss our passion. In each of these situations, no matter how often I attend, I learn something new. It will surprise none of you that I also find epiphanies in social media. Some streams offer one person’s insight on a chronic problem I also have. Others answer questions I couldn’t put into words enough to ask.
Here are some of the best writing tips I’ve gathered from social media the past year:
Get over your perfectionist tendencies.
If you’re having trouble meeting the minimum word count, it’s probably because you’re not being specific enough.
Keep a notebook with you at all times, and write in it. A lot.
Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Find your unique voice and write your stories.
If your story idea involves zombies, it probably has been done already.
If your scene sounds too much like a TV show or movie you’ve seen, cut it!
Writing’s hard. Good writing is even harder.
To uncover the plot of your story, don’t ask what should happen; ask what should go
Don’t let your dumb show.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
There are those who can make a $75 off-the-rack outfit look hand-tailored. Not true in writing. You can’t turn a bad novel into a good one by attaching a pretty cover.
Boldly go where other writers won’t.
To share the criticism I’ve received, I broadened the scope from social media to query letter responses, agents at writer’s conferences, Amazon comments, beta readers, and well-meaning friends:
What this story lacked in ambiance, it didn’t make up for with anything else.
From a trusted beta reader whose day job is doctoring: “I find you have idiopathic
thinking.” When I asked what that was, she explained, “It’s thinking of unknown origin. In other words: What the f*** were you saying?”
From an agent who rejected my novel: I was whelmed.
About a too-complicated story I submitted: A bridge too far and a euphemism too short.
You promised a world-class thriller. I got a rerun of Fantasy Island.
“Why the h*** did you waste my time?” Sorry. Autocorrect. I meant to say, “Thank you for the submittal.”
I asked one agent for suggestions on fixing my story. Her response: “I got nothin’.”
“You wrote your MC right into a corner and she couldn’t escape, like a defective
“Nothin’ to see there.”
Have you found any great tips on your favorite social media?
Here’s a brief summary of Natural Selection.
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
One Pack Ends, Another Begins
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping
impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his
chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than
comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a
yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
Interested? Find out how you can grab your copies of this series and come meet Jacqui!
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
Amazon Author Page Instagram Blog Pinterest
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Editor: Anneli Purchase
Available print or digital) at: Amazon.ca
Hey blogger buddies! Today we’re delving into a hot topic (well, maybe not so hot) about multitasking. We all know the research behind women as capable multitaskers, but what about us dudes?
My friend Ted thinks so. He calls it man-i-tasking. Why don’t we peek in and see how it’s working for him?
Bollock’s Pet Supplies
December 13, 2022
Bae: Can’t wait for dinner! Where r u taking me?
Bae: Botticellis! I nu it! Luv the Ribollita! Yummee! Tiramisu for dessert!
“Morning Ted. Hey, did you remember to restock the dog food yesterday, before you left?”
“You bet your ah . . . great hair, I did.”
“Hey, I know you’re not on the clock yet, but I’ve got a video call in a few moments. Do you think you can send a quick text for me?”
“Um, on my phone?”
Ted: Txt u in a sec.
“Wouldn’t dream of asking that. Use the one we gave you, the one sitting on the desk by your elbow.”
“Sure, no prob, Susan. I’m just finishing up with Bae, I mean Jen. What’s it about?”
Bae: Why? Watz up?
Ted: Just a sec
“The Christmas Party tonight. There’s been some last-minute changes. I need to let everyone know the details, ASAP. We open in less than five, can you send it now? There’s a lineup at the door already, so I don’t want it forgotten.”
“Okay . . . shoot, Boss Lady. I can man-i-task like the best!”
“Um okay. Here goes. We regret to inform you that due to a kitchen fire last night at Chichi Piquant, we’ve had to change venues. We’ve leased plenty of . . .
Bae: Why u ignoring me? Tell me watz up!
“yxvy hjklmnohhhh invgep dklwpoub
Ted: It’s Boss Lady. K?
Bae: So? U got 4 mins.
“qzxxy ahnghh for . . .
Bae: Tell her!
Ted: She’s Boss!
“6 pm. Remember to bring . . .
Bae: I gotta’ come down there and do it?
Ted: Just a sec!
Bae: U txtin’ wat she says rite now! On the work phone! Pussy!
Ted: It’s not like that!
“exysty. Oh, and . . .
Bae: Hollow back man!
Ted: I ain’t no!
Bae: Gwen Stephanie forever! Ya!
“You got all that, Teddy? Good. Gotta’ go! Be sure to clean the gerbil cages at some point today.”
Ted: U got it, Boss Lady!
Bae: Huh? Oh ya! U rite about that!
“Right on it, Boss Lady Susan. Just hitting the old group chat ‘send’ button.”
Ted: Bae, I gotta’ go open up shop.
Ted: Bae? I mean it, some kid’s kicking the door.
Bae: Um, u sent this to everyone at our work?
Ted: Ya, why?
Bae: Read it and remember what I said about man-i-tasking.
Ted: Not a thing, got ya. 😉
“Hey, Ted, can I see you in my office?”
“Susan! Hey, I was just about to open up. I thought you had a meeting.”
“I did, I do, but something’s come up. Just a quick chat. Okay? Hey Mike, can you take a break from stocking shelves and open up? Great, thanks.”
“That’s it, Ted, come in and close the door.”
“What’s this about? I sent the text like you asked. I know, I should have stopped talking to Jen. But you know how she is.”
“I do, she’s worked here for a long time. But you’re right, you should have stopped. One thing at a time, remember? Man-i-tasking is a myth.”
“Okay. Here’s what I asked you to send: ‘We regret to inform you that due to a kitchen fire at Chichi Piquant, we’ve had to change venues. We’ve leased plenty of space for the kid’s Santa party, as this will keep things orderly.
It’ll be at Crème Emporium for 6pm. Remember to bring a pet toy donation. Rawhides are always a chewy favorite! Oh, and dress up as your favorite Holiday character! Susan will be going as Dotty Elf. Yes, she’s a bit sass!’
“Dotty was a favorite character in a book I used to love, by the way.”
“So, what the problem?”
“Here’s what you texted not only the entire store, but the entire chain. My bosses were a bit ‘curious’ to say the least.
‘We regret to inform you that due to a kitchen fire at Chichi Piquant, we’ve had to change venues. We’ll leash all the kids for the Santa Party, it’ll keep them orderly. It’ll be at the Crematorium for 6pm. Remember to bring your chewy hides, as they’re a favorite. Huh? Dunno’ about that one, but Susan’s telling me what to type. Anyways, she’s going as Naughty Elf because she’s a bad ass.’ ”
“Am I fired?”
“Is man-i-tasking a myth?”
“Er . . .”
“Yes, if I can keep my job.”
Bae: Told you so!
Review of Life Is Like A Bowl Of Cherries, by Sally Cronin @sgc58
It’s the start of another weekend and in the early hours of Saturday morning, my thoughts turn to current events. In a previous blog, I mentioned the light verus the dark side of life, and encouraged my readers to watch for the helpers of this world. These people go above and beyond, to serve others and make this world a brighter place.
Today, I have the prvilege of reviewing and introducing such a person. Though, I suspect, she needs no introduction to most. 🙂 Meet Sally Cronin.
Here’s what Amazon says:
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.
The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.
Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.
The full name of this book is actually, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I had to shorten it, because when I put this on my website blog, it limits title lengths.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, sprinkled with meaningful poetry, each pertaining to the pervious story.
Flipping the pages into each new chapter, was to be whisked into another era, another life, a 180 degree ‘about face’ into vastly different circumstances; some good, others, less than stellar.
What remained constant, was the quality of connection I had with every character. They were real people to cheer on, pity, dislike, and congratulate. Valuable life lessons were skillfully interwoven in the fabric of every tale.
I deal with certain faulty world views, due to past experiences. When I first began to read this book, and things were going right for the character, I honestly waited for the other shoe to drop.
I was pleasantly shocked and pleased when the footwear remained firmly affixed and tied! My thought, Is this all there is? The question was posed in a positive and grateful way. I was very pleased. Why shouldn’t life be like that? Such a refreshing change!
I finished this book with a feeling of happiness and peace. There is still good in this world.
Thank you, Sally, for the salve. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. This is what the world needs.
There is no question that this book deserves FIVE STARS!
Meet Sally Cronin:
I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.
After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.
My first book release resulted in a radio interview in Spain that led to four years as a nutritional consultant for an English language station, and this was followed by four years with my own health show and Sunday morning show on local radio station in the UK and then as station director, newsreader and presenter for an online television station.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books and from 2002 I have been working with authors on their book launches and publicity. At that time it was very much physical book launches and press coverage locally to stimulate national interest.. Today it is very different with a global market via the worldwide web.
As important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others within our community. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog, linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.
Connect with Sally and purchase her books:
HIIT your writing and watch it improve!
The story line isn’t written on the wall. Unlike the Biblical account, no matter how hard I stare, no hand appears to write Dan out of the tar pit he’s gotten himself trapped in, again. Sheesh!
This is for those of you, if you’re like me, who struggle, at times, to get collect the right words from that pile of scrabble tiles tumbling inside your cranium.
You type, think, type, backspace, type, stare at the wall; time slips past and the hands of the clock have suddenly moved alarmingly close to quitting time. For me, that’s when the rest of the household gets up. It’s that dreadful wormhole again! Sucking time and productivity into an eternal vacuum. There’s no fix for it, no way to simply remove a filter and shake it out. It’s lost, forever.
Those who know me, are aware that physical fitness is a huge part of my life. I devote a great deal of time to developing the three key physical fitness elements: strength, cardio, and flexibility.
Recently, an idea came to me, as I waited for that magic hand to reveal the ‘golden nugget’.
I decided to incorporate a technique I’ve often used in my workouts, into my writing. Some of you may be familiar with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Simply put, the idea is to go hard for a brief period of time, and then continue exercising, but at a slower pace. This has proven, and I’ve benefited personally, to be a more effective and time efficient way of exercising than traditional forms. The ratio of time spent going hard to slowing down, are dependent upon fitness levels and goals.
I thought you were talking about writing, not running, Bierman. I am, well now I am. I’ve discovered, for me, at least, that the same principles can be used in writing life.
No more staring at walls or scratching my head, trying to squeeze out the next sentence. These days, I write and read, in intervals. I’ll work on my WIP for fifteen minutes to half an hour, and then switch to reading blogs for about ten to fifteen minutes, before writing again.
I find reading the excellent work of others, and their different approaches to wordsmithing, very stimulating. It gives me a chance to ‘let someone else take the wheel.’
No matter how much you love to write, and I do, creating something out of nothing can be mentally draining. This method allows for a break, while keeping your creative side working in the background.
I read blogs because they are short, and I can finish them within the allotted time frame. Blogs also give you the chance to read material from different authors, thus stimulating your brain to a greater extent.
You may have your own preference, such as Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media platform. I would advise against reading a book, as it can get intertwined with your work, and it should be something you can finish within the timeframe.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have any techniques that you use, please share them here.