Three Things I Learned Finishing My Third Draft

Writing a book is a lot of work…see why in this article.

Corine Tan

A few days ago, I finished my third draft. I printed out all the pages, shoved them into a binder, and the first thing I did was drop it. On purpose. I wanted to hear that sound, that thud that meant something that had weighed on my mind for the last four years had actual, physical weight. And my god, was that a satisfying thud.

img_6802 what a rollercoaster…

That binder, with its 271 pages and 77,283 words on those pages contains the third draft of Under the Gold Paint, a novel I started my freshman year. My “shrink” draft as I call it, encompassed the grand task of cutting down 150,000 words of the second draft in half and rewriting everything. I started right after Christmas 2016 and finished on Tuesday February 7th, 2017. In those few months, I wrote almost every day (I wrote thousands of words while…

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Author Spotlight – Lorna Hollifield


Author Spotlight

This week’s Author Spotlight features Lorna Hollifield.

LornaHollifield1Lorna Hollifield was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but now enjoys the island life outside of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Kimsey, and two mutts, Scarlet and Daisy.  

She’s been an author from the time she could speak, always spinning yarns for anyone who would listen.  She began her professional writing journey as a tourism and travel blogger, before finally deciding to pursue her dream of publishing fiction.  Tobacco Sun is her first novel, and she’s delighted to share it with the world!  

Lorna has also served as President for the South Carolina Writers Association, and loves speaking about her craft at literary conferences and community events (especially charitable ones).  

When Lorna isn’t writing fiction, she enjoys blogging about writable women at

Let’s take a look at her book, Tobacco Sun

The year is 1947. The war is over, Jackie Robinson has just integrated baseball, and Frank TobaccoSunCoverSinatra breezes in over the fuzzy airwaves. A sense of relief is finally sweeping the nation…everywhere except Tobaccoville, North Carolina.

Beyond the rural fields that are pregnant with decades of secrets, a mysterious Hollywood pin-up is jailed for murder while her facially birthmarked half-sister may hold the answers as to why. 

The two girls, estranged for years, share a haunting past, a shell-shocked love interest, and maybe even a cruel destiny. Through mountains of lies, the truth that inevitably comes pouring out of the tobacco leaves will come to light. Will this light reveal the path to the siblings’ foreordained destruction, or their long-awaited deliverance? Will they realize they each hold the power to set the other free before it’s too late?

A story of heritage, hurt, and somehow, hope; Tobacco Sun keeps you on the edge of your seat while you find yourself rooting for redemption.

Tobacco Sun can be purchased on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. 
Connect with Lorna through her Blog, Facebook, Twitter – Fan page is @fansoflornah, Lorna’s is @AuthorLornaH, and Instagram.

Be Your Own Muse…💫

“Let go of this notion that you have to wait for the muse to show up before you have permission to be brilliant.” Read more about finding your muse in the article below.

Dina Al-Mahdy: Award-winning Writer and Translator

img_3922-1Many of us wait for inspiration to give us creative momentum. It sometimes feels as though inspiration is a mysterious force — sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. But it isn’t something we have to wait for.

So what if we could summon our inner muse at will? What if each time we sat down to write, we could reach that magic zone where the words just spilled out onto the page?

I believe that what we often refer to as ‘the muse’ – the goddess or power that fuels our creativity – isn’t outside of us… It’s right here within us.

So here are some ways to summon your inner muse:

1. Keep a Journal.

Jot down the things that inspire or intrigue you. It could be anything—a quote from a famous person, an ad slogan or the fortune you receive in a Chinese fortunate cooking. Sometimes, the…

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The Space Needle – An Icon of the Pacific Northwest


“There are two very prominent characters in Sand & Sutures, and I suspect in all of the books in the Scrubs series, that have no dialogue. The first quiet but ever present character is the city of Seattle, Washington. You can feel the green, picture the fog, sunshine, and rain. The features and terrain of Seattle have been lovingly and subtly written in as the characters walk through their days.” -Opus Book Review of Sand & Sutures

The Space Needle is a huge tourist attraction and a well-known icon in the city of Seattle. But for me, it symbolizes the Northwest and every memory associated with it.

The distinctive structure is one of the landmarks that stands out when flying into the city, especially at night. The nighttime lights of the Space Needle are absolutely awe-inspiring, and they change to reflect various events. When the Seahawks play, the tower illuminates in blue and green. During the holidays, a tree made of 1,200 lights is perched 560 feet atop the building, brightening the city.  Every New Year’s Eve, the Space Needle hosts a fireworks display synchronized to music. When the University of Washington Huskies won the Rose Bowl, the team’s logo was temporarily painted on the tower, and the building glowed with a purple hue.

The Legacy Light, or Skybeam, is a vertical beam that shines on special occasions. Every year on 9–11, it lights up the sky for eleven consecutive hours.

The observation deck of the Space Needle provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the city and surrounding area. To the west, you’ll find Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. To the east, you’ll see the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and Lake Washington. You can get to the top by either taking the 41-second elevator ride or climbing the tower’s 848 steps.

The Space Needle is one of my favorite locations, not because of the building itself, but because of what it represents for my characters throughout the Scrubs series. In Scrubs, my leading man associates the Space Needle with home. He even has a tee-shirt with the word SEATTLE printed on the front; one of the T’s is a silhouette of the famous building. The structure brings back childhood memories for him and is one of the first things he shows people when they visit his beloved city.


“As Randy’s plane descended over Puget Sound into the SEA-TAC airport, he remembered how much he missed home. The beautiful Seattle skyline lit up the nighttime sky, and the glow of the lights reflecting off the lake brought back memories of fishing with his dad.” –an excerpt from Scrubs

For most, the Space Needle is just a steel structure in the middle of downtown Seattle. But for me, the Space Needle symbolizes much more — hiking through moss-covered forests, the snow-covered Cascade Mountains, fishing in crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, fresh seafood, and my love for city of Seattle. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and although I no longer live in Seattle, I will always consider the emerald city my home.

(Taken from an article I wrote for Squirl’s On the Spot blog)

Author Spotlight – Neal Parks


Author Spotlight

Welcome to another episode of Author Spotlight. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Neal Parks. Neal is an Award Winning Author, Artist, Paranormal Researcher, Investigator, Public Speaker, and founder of Parks Paranormal Research and Investigation, with over twenty five years of firsthand experience.

Welcome, Neal. Can you tell us about yourself?

NP: My journey started with fascinating stories that my grandmother would tell me about local and regional ghost legends, UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings and various other Neal Parksunworldly encounters. Personal experience also played a major role in my wide-eyed wonder and reflection.

In September of 2007 my research was featured in the book Ghosts from Coast to Coast – America’s Best Ghost Investigators. In September of 2008, I released my first book titled, Paranormal Chronicles Tales of Humor, Horror and the Absolutely Strange

My first book, Paranormal Chronicles – Tales of Humor, Horror and the Absolutely Strange was self-published by Lulu Press. An inspirational and Paranormal work and is a compilation of short stories, it was characterized by Andy Dominianni, a former news anchorman from FOX28 News as a, “Fun and Scary good time,” while Yolanda Harris from FOX28 called it, “A frightening and inspirational book full of heart, scares and some laughs.” A moderate commercial success, by December 2011, it has continued to sell well nationally and has made its way through the international markets. 
NP: My second book, Haunted Chillicothe – True Ghost Stories, Tales, Legends and Folklore was another self-published effort by Lulu Publishing, released in 2010. It too is a collection of ghostly tales. However, it is completely a local effort sold directly in my hometown to help promote tourism in the area. I have also appeared as a guest speaker and presenter at the 2007 – 2016 Chilliicothe Ghost Walk, the Mid Ohio Paranormal Convention in 2010, the 2008, and 2013 – 2015 Mothman Festival, the 2016 C.R.E.E.P. Fest, the 2017 Chillicothe Halloween Festival as well as speaking at schools, libraries and churches during the Halloween season. I’ve been featured in several articles, newsletters / newspapers, radio, television and documentary films. I have also been featured in two other books and a documentary due to my research and experience in the field of paranormal investigation. My third book, Haunted Holiday’s – Tales of Inspiration, Terror and Reflection was picked up by SynergEbook in 2012 and went global. It won a literary award in 2014, and earned critical praise.
My newest book and fourth release, Haunted Enough? Terrifying Tales to Tell your Friends (Paranormal Chronicles 2) will be released in Spring 2018. 
Please feel free to contact Neal at, or
Haunted 2
Let’s take a look at an excerpt from Haunted Holidays…
   “Check that out, Stacey,” Kristin said.    
   “Who could that be?” Stacey replied, softly chuckling.      
   The dark figure stood silently watching them, without moving. The longer the person stood there, the louder and more obnoxious the girls became. 
   “Look everyone, it’s the Grim Reaper!” one of the girls shouted. 
   The girls burst out into laughter. 
   The shadowed figure started to move toward them, silently shuffling in their direction. 
   “Oh no, he’s on the move!” Kristin said to the group. 
   Within inches from the group of girls, the shadowed figure completely vanished and a blast of intense heat filled the hall where the girls were standing. It left behind the stench of burning wood and ash. 
   “What just happened?” Stacey shouted. 
   “Who was that? Where did he go?” Kristin asked. 



“Neal Parks has done it again!! Haunting at its best! Haunted Holiday is filled with non-stop paranormal action. From Halloween all the way yo the new year, Haunted Holiday reveals horrifying true paranormal encounters. Mind blowing! You won’t be able to put this book down! Spectacular stocking stuffer for the holidays or any time of year. Haunted Holidays has my two thumbs up along with a five star rating.” – Karen Vance Hammond, Author of Shoe Maker

“This book was terrific! It was super well written, interesting, and spooky. I absolutely loved how the book tied in individual holidays and showed how ghosts can be found in each. I am a teacher and I think each of these stories will make a great read-aloud as we get close to each holiday season because they are short and can be read within a few minutes. Additionally, I loved how this book showed that ghosts can actually be angels too. Really entertaining!” – D.H., School Teacher, OH 

“This book is so good! I’m not even halfway through Haunted Holidays and I have completely gotten sucked in. I’ve read Neal Parks’ earlier works and this piece is by far his best effort to date! He’s a great storyteller and writer, one of the best modern authors out now! Buy this book today!” – Amanda Quinn

“For Neal Parks, the holiday season begins a little earlier than for most folks – although he’s hoping to in some way change that feeling. The local paranormal investigator’s third book, Haunted Holidays, features a series of 12“short stories … about paranormal phenomenon experienced in the period between Halloween and New Year’s Eve.” – 


Grab your copy of Neal’s books from Neal Parks’s Books and Publications Spotlight

For more information, visit Neal’s websitehis IMDb page, YouTube channelNeal Parks on PatrolParks Paranormal Research and Investigation, or connect with him on Facebook.