Thursday, October 18, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Q & A with Zari Reede

The Write Way Café welcomes writing team Zari Reede, two authors who bring different perspectives together to create one satisfying read. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Zoe – Ever since I could read, I’ve dreamed of being a published author and dabbled at writing my whole life.

Minette – I wrote a play in the second grade about the love of Seth and Beth. I thought I would become famous and guess that was the beginning, but I didn’t get serious about writing a novel until I was twenty-two, before that it was just poetry and scribbles.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Zoe – I try to spend at least six days a week writing, but the hours I write and the times vary greatly.

Minette – Before losing our home in Hurricane Harvey last year, I would wake up Monday through Friday by seven am and attack the social media dragon that I have a love/hate relationship with. I would sip hot tea while I posted silly pics of my dogs. Since the hurricane, I’ve acquired three parrots and now take silly videos as well. I consider all this a writing warm-up, a prelude to my creative day job. Then I would settle down to my laptop by the pool and work until lunch, take a break and plod on. Now, I have days filled with contractors, laundry, doctor’s appointments, errands, etc. During crunch times, I may be in bed until three in the morning, trying to polish off a script. I’ve managed to hang on, but this last year has really thrown my personal life into chaos. I’ve tried to jump back on the wagon by joining my local chapter of Romance Writers of America and attending the national conference. Mystery Writers of America and Sister’s in Crime are some of the other organizations that fill the creative well.

How did you start writing together? 

Zoe – In hopes of both of us becoming more committed to setting aside time to write on a regular basis, Minette sent me a paragraph and asked me to add to it. This work eventually became our first book.

Minette – I was sitting next to my sister’s hospital bed for months, working on an old manuscript. I asked Zoe to join me in a quick writing exercise. The rules were no edits–just write and send. I sent a couple paragraphs to her in a matter of minutes. I had to bug Zoe for three days until she added on to the story. The rest is history.

Is it hard for two authors to write a book together?

Zoe – Maybe for some, but writing with Minette is much easier for me than writing alone.

Minette – I love having a co-writer. If we get a bad review, I can blame Zoe–just kidding. It’s like playing literary chess. I can’t have Zoe writing all the best scenes, so I have to be quick on the quill. I try to leave a surprise lying in wait every time she opens her laptop.

How did you choose Zari Reede?

Zoe – I play World of Warcraft and have one character named Zarielle, which was shortened to Zari, and one named Reede.

Minette – Zoe had a book, that I liked the character name, so I asked if she minded using it. Freed was a name my sister said she wanted to use when she became published. She passed away the day after we received our first acceptance letter for Daisy Dukes ‘n Cowboy Boots. I never got a chance to tell her our book was accepted. Reading is something we love, so read/Reede.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Zoe – Inspiration is everywhere, but research can be challenging. For instance, I haven’t been to west Texas before and I worried about getting the facts right.

Minette - I get my ideas from life, sitting in the dentist office, talking to an old man outside of the carwash, sometimes during a painful life lesson, like trusting someone you shouldn’t–those are my wicked characters. Mostly, I just open my laptop and start writing. It’s how Zoe and I wrote our first book. Not one thought about what I was going to write before tapping away. I just narrate the images I see in my mind.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Zoe – I read pretty much nonstop and enjoy spending time with my friends, family, and pets. Fitness is important to me, so, I work out on a regular basis. I love attending ballets, plays, and operas, and have a major girly streak that shows in my ever-growing collection of shoes.

Minette – I love to travel, so if you look at my social media, you will usually see castles or beaches somewhere in the world. I love to be a tourist and learn about other exotic culture’s past or present. I love living in Texas with my six dogs, three turtles, three parrots and possible kitten I rescued a few days ago. It’s hard for me to pass up an animal in need. I enjoy every moment spent with my amazing hubby, who cheers on my writing and accepts my ever-growing zoo. I like to escape riding my Harley through the hill country, and during the winter, my favorite sport in the world is skiing.

Pantser or plotter?

Zoe – I was a pantser for years, but kept writing myself into corners. Plotting has helped me become more productive. However, as Zari Reede, we tend to write by the seat of our pants until we get about half way through the book. Then we meet to discuss where we’re going with the story and how to proceed.

Minette – Definitely a pantser. It’s so much more fun to be surprised. I’m a "live in the present" person. Planning is hard for me.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Zoe – I try to be more original. I like to challenge the reader and have a playful approach to writing.

Minette – I like to give readers what they want. There are certain rules in genres for a reason, but we often write outside of the box. I like that our publisher doesn’t hold us to any one set of rules. I want publishers to publish our stories, and more important, for people to look forward to reading what we write next. I think we can balance and deliver both.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Zoe – I found writing from a male perspective fun and had a blast writing Lenny.

Minette –Writing the male characters in our stories seemed easy but writing the psycho-killer in book three was a bit challenging. I don’t naturally think of ways to hurt people. I sometimes shock myself by what I write. “Hmmm…how do you feel about that?” my mom would say. She was a social worker for the state of Louisiana until she retired.

What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write?

Zoe – Love and sex scenes are difficult because I’m always afraid it comes off as purple prose and laughable.

Minette - Zombies, I hate zombie scenes. I’m not good with vampire or zombie fantasy. I don’t read it, so it is very hard to write. How do I know this? Blinked had a few undead characters and book five is full of surprises.

What is the hardest thing about having a co-author?

Zoe – Once in a while, we’ll have a tricky, creative conflict to solve, then there’s editing…

Minette – Editing! Sometimes it’s difficult to resolve a plot issue or agree on cover design, but we usually find a happy point on most decisions, especially if there is champagne involved–yes, all our writer’s meetings include bubbly. Do you think we can write that off on our taxes?

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Zoe – My goal is to write at least 3,000 words a day, six days a week on my personal projects. When we write together, we try to limit ourselves to around 1,000 words before sending it off to the other person, so we write about 2,000 words a day. Most books are around 90,000 words.

Minette – It took four months for our first two books to be written in rough draft completion. It takes a month or two to edit, if we aren’t working on multiple projects. Submitting, contracts and professional edits can take a year and a half to produce a completed book with glossy cover. Traditional publishing isn’t fast. I can’t remember how long the other novels have taken. We get so involved in the blog, social media, second edits, cover design…the list goes on. I can’t wait until we really hit it out of the park and then hire an assistant. Then we can focus on what we really love–writing!

What books have you written and what are you currently writing on?

Author: Zari ReedeAuthor: Zari Reede
ZoeDaisy Dukes ‛n Cowboy Boots is our West Texas, humorous romance. As a writing team. Minette and I have also written, a funny, frothy fantasy, Blinked and a psychological thriller, Sins of the Sister. We have two more novels in different genres awaiting editing, and I have a book of my own coming out in November.

Minette ─ We have completed five novels as Zari Reede and are under several more contracts for our individual books as Minette Lauren and Zoe Tasia. Hurricane Harvey put a kink in my writing schedule, but two titles under Minette Lauren should debut this year.


by Zari Reede

Lana Madison is a twenty-three-year-old, unconventional private investigator, who is searching for the men who abducted her identical twin. Lana and Dania are complete opposites, but their bond from birth allows them to share emotions. These brief moments of connection prove to Lana that her twin is still very much alive. Lana suffers flashbacks of past events, which she believes are her sister’s memories and realizes there are gaps in her own timeline from the day of her sister’s disappearance. She has given up on believing that the police will ever find Dania and is determined to find her sister on her own. But as she gets closer to finding her twin, the barriers that haunt Lana’s façade steadily melt away, and now her own life—as well as her sanity—is on the line…

Author: Minette Lauren

Soledad, an old soul, confronts the failures of her last life, having committed suicide when things became too difficult. As she moves forward into the soul-watcher’s phase of the afterworld, she picks from a list of struggling souls to guide and guard. Ally, a popular artist and her niece from her former life, is among Soledad’s choices. Trapped in a soul-watching state, Soledad follows Ally, throughout parts of her daily routine, trying to surmise her embodied ward’s purpose. Once she can master the meaning of Ally’s reality, Soledad hopes to be granted another life with her own soulmate. Journey with these very real characters to find what lessons are learned in the passing of time and the rewards their love brings. Race for the Sun is a lesson on life and loving for all.

Zari Reede is a writing team consisting of Zoe Tasia and Minette Lauren. Both have an addiction to collaborative writing that rivals Oreo Double Stuffed cookies with fine champagne. Writing solo for years, they decided to engage in a writing exercise to strengthen their skills and enlighten their creative minds. It turned out to be a great venture and is still going strong today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: The Dark Horse by Liz Flaherty

Liz Flaherty

by Liz FlahertyIn THE DARK HORSE, widowed Chloe Brewton has made a life for herself in Christmas Town, Maine, teaching literature and being the drama coach at the high school. Although she’d loved her husband and their life in the army, she doesn’t really want to start over with someone else, but when she meets Major Row Welcome, in Christmas Town to spend the holiday month with relatives and decide about his future, she feels stirrings of old wishes for happily-ever-after.

The attraction is mutual, although the last thing Row wants is to try marriage again, plus he’s about as interested in having a family as…well, he isn’t.

But then there’s Connor Michaud and his three younger siblings. Oh, no. What now in Christmas Town?

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Liz Flaherty spent way too much time when she was young worrying about growing old. Regardless of how much hair color and moisturizer she used, it happened anyway. Now that she really IS old, she only worries that it won't last long enough--it's a lot more fun than she anticipated. She still loves adventures with Duane, her husband of 47 years, and she's not even going to get started on the grandkids--there are seven, by the way, all perfect... She writes and makes quilts and spends time with friends and family and never dusts. It's all good.

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Monday, October 15, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Monday Morsels: Touch Me

Touch Me
Dark Sides Book One
by Lynn Crandall

Payson looked down over the city from her favorite vantage point at the top of the Sheppard Media Tower, and worried her bottom lip. In the light of dawn, she perched at the edge of the large deck and scanned the downtown streets.

From fifteen stories up, any city could look like a happy place. What she saw told her it was not so for the city of Auralia.

A summer breeze tossed her long hair across her face. She shivered. Changes in the quality of energy thrumming in the air prickled her skin. She could see dark energies thriving in the fistfight in a parking lot, hear it in a woman’s screams for help, sense it in its chaotic pulse that throbbed in her bones. Urgency thudded in her chest.

Her eyes closed, she opened her mind to other Aeons in the city and sensed her energy connection with theirs, like lines of light spreading from her in a web across the city. The gentle pulsing of their high energy hummed in her body, assuring her each one was out there living from light. Awareness bloomed in her chest of how each one brought something different to their mission of balancing dark and light. Hers was working as a bounty hunter.

But Dark Sides energies intensifying these days called her and her fellow Aeons to step up their game right now. Hurry, hurry screamed through her to take stronger actions against the darkness before it was too late.

Payson checked the time on her phone, expecting Braden at any minute.

She ran her gaze across the scene below her—tall buildings that didn’t quite reach the tower, cars filling the streets. But in her mind, she saw a seaport bustling with activity, large sailing ships, and buildings reaching upward sitting next to shiny dome buildings. Suddenly, the scene shifted and devastation rushed through her. She rocked on her perch and blinked hard at the reminder of the past.

She had lived her whole life knowing the popular legend of the lost continent of Atlantis, but also knowing most believed it was a cute story, or just a myth, even a parable to warn people away from the evils of challenging laws and traditions.

Her gut clenched and she turned to find Diane Butler strutting toward her. “Great view, huh?”

Payson jumped down to the deck and braced herself for an assault on her senses. Diane carried darkness around as some people wore a smell. “What are you doing here?”

Want to read more?

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Bounty hunter Payson Silver stands on the top of the tallest building in her city and sees proof below in the cries for help, the theft underway, and fighting in progress that darkness is growing. Locating skips,lost people, and objects is only one of her jobs. Born an Aeon, a direct descendant of evolved people of Atlantis, Payson came into the world knowing her purpose in life-to balance dark energies with light and prevent the world from going deeply into darkness, starting with the City of Auralia.

Alongside the love of her life, Braden Powers, and other fellow Aeons, she uses her psychometric ability and special skills to defeat the mission of Dark Aspects, or DAs as she calls them, from turning the city into darkness. Her greatest weapon against the darkness is her ability to send the energy of light and love into the world. Her greatest obstacle to saving the world is fellow Aeon turned DA, Diane Butler, and her own resistance to her mission.

Braden too battles a lack of commitment to the Aeons' mission,and the reminder that he lost control of his mind-control ability once with dire consequences. While he understands the importance of his work, it is only head-deep, not within his heart. As bounty hunter and police officer, Payson and Braden counter darkness by enforcing justice and protecting residents from those who harm others and commit crimes. But when Diane's dark jealousy drives her to block Braden's mind to his real life and create a new one for him,Payson can't stop her. To lose her love is devastating and she knows she has only ten days to bring him back to the light.

Dark forces are powerful, and Payson and Braden battle tosave each other and their precious relationship, while the fate of the worldlies in balance. The battle for good goes on under the radar of humanity, butthe outcome will mean the difference of a thriving planet or the slow death ofall that is. They face difficult choices to save their love, save their souls,and save the world from succumbing to the Dark Side.

📚  Find Lynn Crandall here:

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Friday, October 12, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. 
– Frederick Douglass

Thursday, October 11, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Five Lessons to Lead a Sane Life in an Insane Writing World by Paul Thaler

The Write Way Café welcomes Paul Thaler, who encourages writers not to let others limit your aspirations.

So let’s start off on an honest note. For a new writer—actually for any writer outside of the likes of John Grisham—the road to publishing a novel is not only filled with potholes but fissures large enough to swallow up the most resilient of us. Okay, a bit dramatic of a start for this advice column, but you get the idea. I speak from my own travails of the past six years in which I went through two major revisions of my novel only to confront “the industry” when I set out to publish. Even with two well regarded nonfiction books to my credit, Bronxland was a tough sell to agents or publishing houses (as much as I was tempted to change my name to Grisham). I was fortunate enough to come upon a small press, Black Opal Books (BOB), that took to the manuscript. BOB has been great in fact, moving the novel into paperback, digital and, most recently, hardcover. The added perk has been their authors’ online forum where BOB writers daily commiserate and offer advice and support. So, I was fortunate. Still, the journey has left its battle scars, but also a modicum of wisdom about the writing and publishing process. Take what you may from these “lessons.” I’ll only preface them to encourage you to keep at it, not that we as writers have a choice anyway.

Lesson 1: First, some practical advice. Find a writing schedule that fits your personality, one that keeps you sane. I am always interested in how writers write. Stephen King, for one, mentions that he works a four-hour morning shift, with the intention of putting out 1500 words each day. He’s done pretty well for himself following that regimen. I must admit that I follow a slightly different track immersed at times in 16-hour writing days–so I’m not a great example of the sane school of writing. In noting my addiction, I would still advise to separate yourself from your writing at times, take a break. You’ll be surprised in looking at your previous paragraphs and pages through fresh eyes to see what works or not.

Lesson 2: Don’t fall too heavily in love with your original book idea—be open to new ones. Like all journeys into the unknown, writing a book has its own surprises—and writers must be ready to adjust. Bronxland actually started out as a memoir, and after spending two years I thought I had nailed down my final draft—clearly a brilliant coming-of-age autobiography. That is, until I heard back from my writing colleagues who collectively offered their opinion—in short, that I should tuck the book into a desk drawer, and forget about it. Okay, not kind advice – but they were right. I had written a book heavy in narcissism with limited reader appeal (save for a family member or two, and even then if I was lucky). So, Bronxland was finally born – a novel where I could meld my autobiographical musings into a more appealing flight of imagination for readers. Of course, I wish I had come to that realization and that story earlier —but such is sometimes the bi-roads in the writing journey we sign up for.

Lesson 3:  Pay attention to the voice and personality of your characters. I know, standard advice for the craft. But too often new and even experienced novelists become so immersed in the narrative and twisty plot scenarios that they lose sight of their characters. When we think back to a book that resonates, it is more often the human element that sticks. I cannot tell you much of anything about Jack Reacher’s exploits even as his avid reader—but Lee Child has created an iconic character that holds up even when his story lines falter. My reviewers generally speak in positive terms about the narrative in Bronxland but seem especially ramped up by “memorable” characters involved in the novel (and nice to hear, of course)—and a reason to care and commit to those 300 pages. This is not to say that the narrative arc of your story isn’t important—of course it is—but the “voices” that come alive are especially vital to the life-blood of your novel. So, breathe life into them.

Lesson 4: You don’t need a computer to write. In fact, typically that’s not where our stories come from. Which brings me to Jack Nicholson in The Shining. While most of us remember this epic horror film for Nicholson’s wonderfully terrifying performance, there is a moment when his character nails the writer’s mindset. Nicholson, an aspiring writer, is sitting, still and silent, at a desk in a vast, empty space at the Overlook Hotel. A sheaf of blank paper rests at the side of his typewriter. He has not written a single word, as his wife, Shelley Duvall approaches and timidly asks why, in fact, he isn’t writing. Nicholson, in all his crocodile-smile madness, replies, tapping the top of his head, “This is writing. . .”, then pointing to the typewriter, “This is typing.” Nicholson had it right, that as writers we are always writing even when we aren’t. We need time to think but also to engage the world. Our creative minds need that oxygen. Years ago I met up with the writer, Pete Hamill. He always seemed to be jotting something down in a journal he always carried with him. When I finally inquired just what it was he was taking note of, he shrugged, replying that you never know when something hits that finds its way into your next book. Since that talk, I always carry around my own pad.

Lesson 5: Writing requires long patience—and backbone. Understand that you are in for the long haul, and it can be something of a scary ride. And one not for the faint of heart. After all, as writers, we work in isolation with that underlying fear that no will ever care or take notice of what we have to say on our pages. Some writers finally do opt out, their stories never seeing the light of day. But for the brave among us, perseverance is key. Writing the book is only a first step—but certainly not the only one. Whatever the romantic view of our creative process, the reality is that we are also sales-marketing people, trying to win over agents, publishers, reviewers, and readers. Voluminous marketing advice exists on the web ranging from the good to the not-so-great. I won’t step into those deep waters here, but a personal caution. I avoid paying anyone to read a manuscript, or to review my book, or any other such marketing “promises.” Other writers may disagree, but this monetizing of the industry is something that has gotten out of hand. I am, however, a huge fan of writer-friendly bloggers and sites that have a supportive heart (and thank you The Write Way Café!).

An extra lesson, if you don’t mind. Whatever, your writing choices, as in life, don’t let others limit your aspirations. If you feel it, then that is your challenge. The writer’s life can be insane, but it is like walking the high wire—yes, dangerous, but the view up there is magnificent. Take it in.


  by Paul Thaler
Welcome to Bronxland by Paul Thaler—and this uproarious and heartrending coming of age novel set in the Bronx circa '60s. Paul Wolfenthal is a peculiar 13-year-old kid grappling with the absurdities of his young Bronx life circa 1960. He visits the dead, hears voices in his head, despises Richard Nixon, is infatuated with his Marilyn Monroe look-alike math teacher, and is a choice victim for the neighborhood’s sadistic bully. And then Paul really starts running into trouble.

Paul is, in fact, a kid in search of heroes, alive and otherwise, and finds them in John Kennedy and Harry Houdini, both of whom cross into his life. But these are strange and even dangerous times. Hovering in the shadows are “the demons” that haunt Paul’s young childhood dreams, only to come alive and shatter his world. One steals away a neighborhood child. And then his president.

Set against the turbulent history of the times, Bronxland tugs on a kaleidoscope of emotions. A place of the heart known to all of us, with our own story to tell of growing up, of trying to make sense of our life, with everything that comes along.

Bronxland buy links:   Amazon        Barnes & Noble

Paul Thaler
is a former journalist and the author of the critically acclaimed The Spectacle: Media and the Making of the OJ Simpson Story, and The Watchful Eye: American Justice in the Age of the Television Trial. Bronxland is his debut novel, released (October 2017) by Black Opal Books. In addition to his writings, Paul has also been an on-air media commentator for numerous television cable news programs and documentaries including those on CNN and HBO. He holds both a Masters of Arts in Journalism and a Ph.D. in Communications from New York University. Paul is a longtime resident of the Bronx, New York, where he lives with his wife, Amy, and their three children, Matthew, Robby and Rebecca.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Tuesday Special: An Innocent Man by Augustina Van Hoven

Augustina Van Hoven


After being jilted at the altar, journalist Becky Hollister moves to a new city to try to put her life back together and ease the heartache. She’s surprised to find her new home is already occupied by a man who died 20 years ago. Will solving his murder help her to learn to love again?

Sheriff’s deputy, Mark Collins, is intrigued by the feisty reporter and her determination to unlock the truth behind a crime that happened when he was a kid. But every time he tries to get closer to her, she runs away like a wounded animal. If he can help her solve the cold case, can he also help heal her broken heart?

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Augustina Van Hoven
was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats. She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy. When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines.

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Friday, October 5, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe
Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.
– Jon Bon Jovi
Thursday, October 4, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

The Question and Other Stories with Bentley Wells

The Write Way Café welcomes Bentley Wells, whose collection of short stories takes readers through a variety of experiences.

Tell us a little about The Question and Other Stories.

This collection contains thirteen stories that concern pre-teens, young adults, and adults. For instance, one story focuses on a pre-teen's experiences during a late afternoon class at school. Another concerns a young adult enrolled in college who doesn't know the campus queen but calls and asks her out. Another concerns a young adult--a Vietnam veteran--who is confused about his place in the world. And another looks at a president of a small town bank who meets a possible female companion through a local publication's personals advertisement. Other stories depict characters experiencing other aspects of life, including the death of a family member.

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
Each story was written decades ago and then revised over time. Each story's purpose was to depict the primary character in a situation that could very well happen. Primarily because of the character's gender, age, and circumstances, what he or she experiences is not necessarily out of this world. One or more readers may disagree, however, after reading a few of the stories.

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
There have been several people responsible for my interest in writing. For instance, a professor of journalism who had worked for a small award-winning newspaper as well as a large award-winning newspaper was instrumental. Another was a professor of English who taught creative writing. And another was a professor of English who taught technical writing.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given? What’s your best writing advice for others?
Accept criticism about your writing from those you respect. Learn from your mistakes. And edit, edit, edit, revise, revise, revise.

What “keepers” are in your home library?

An excellent dictionary, thesaurus, and several books about writing.

What does your writing process look like?

My writing process consists of trying to get the first draft written, which may take months and months. (In fact, I may stop writing one thing and start another.) Then I go through the draft and make numerous changes. I have thrown out scenes and chapters, for instance. In other words, if I don't like something, I'll change it or delete it until I do. And then I'll go through the manuscript again.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read all of my reviews. In fact, I revised a piece of nonfiction as a result of a reviewer's comment. However, if the piece has been published, this is impossible to do unless the piece will be published again. Regarding bad or negative reviews, writers must have thick skins. It's simple as that.

What is your best marketing tip?

Writers need to try different marketing techniques. If something is tried and it doesn't work, then a writer should try something else. Unfortunately, publishers do very little when it comes to advertising or marketing a particular title. Consequently, writers have to do more--that is, if they want their titles to sell.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Spending hours and hours reaching out to bloggers, editors of magazines, and editors of newspapers, trying to interest them enough to consider publishing an interview (if not a review of the book) or publishing a press release about the author and book. Spending hours and hours reaching out to librarians, encouraging them to purchase one or more copies of the book. Of course, like most writers, I would rather spend these hours and hours researching and writing.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I don't believe I would write a piece of fiction that featured a terrorist.

by Bentley Wells
The Question and Other Stories contains several tales that concern young people who have to deal with hard-nosed teachers, fickle girlfriends, and death of family members, among other topics. Other tales concern adults who have to confront loneliness, rejection, and mental illness.

Amazon        Barnes and Noble         Smashwords

Kobo          Black Opal Books       iTunes  


Bentley Wells has written short stories that have been published in literary magazines and The Paradise Coven, a mystery that was published by Black Opal Books in 2017. The Question and Other Stories, his most recent publication, is published by Black Opal Books as well.

Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Refueling My Wells

Normally a glass half full personality, I recently found myself feeling like my glass was broken. My emotional well was flooded with feelings of failure, feelings of inadequacy. My mental well was depleted. My physical well was exhausted. My creative well, empty.

I was so far down that instead of looking forward to our upcoming vacation, I was dreading it. Who does that?

During the long drive from Illinois to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, a vacation we’d been planning for over a year, I had a lot of time to think. You’ve heard of the sandwich generation? Well, I’m the very thinly spread mayo of the sandwich. My daughter suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety and depression. My mom leans on me after losing my dad just before Valentine’s Day this year. She is struggling without her life partner – emotionally and financially. And here I am, the mayo, trying very hard to keep the family together.

I know there are many people much worse off, and I’m not complaining – not really. I love my family. But on the drive west I realized I’ve been so busy trying to be strong for everyone else that I haven’t been taking care of myself. The anxious weight of responsibilities, real and imagined, has been heavy on my shoulders.

A few hours into the drive, I could feel the tension easing out of my body. Physically leaving it all behind meant the various family members would need to reach out to their other supporters. As much as I want to, I can’t. Fix. Everything. Not now, and probably not ever.

I NEEDED that vacation. Two weeks for me, myself, and I. Well, and my hubby too. I prayed. I started taking in the beautiful scenery and letting it flow over me. We played the license plate game as we drove, and I felt like a kid again. I felt free.

Photo by HiDee Ekstrom 2018The Badlands are beautiful but stark. We drove through Badlands National Park and hiked some of the trails. We saw prairie dogs, mule deer and bighorn sheep. Forced to be mostly disconnected due to spotty cell phone reception, I found myself relaxing even more.

Two days later we moved to the Black Hills. Still beautiful but very different scenery. Cell reception improved but Wi-fi was iffy, even in our campground. I was starting to embrace the forced disconnection. For ten days, we camped – er, glamped. I really like having my own bathroom and a real bed. We took day trips to hike, view magnificent scenery, and look for wildlife. My photographer self was in love with the land and the photo opportunities there. We saw more prairie dogs, coyotes, wild turkeys, pronghorn, and lots of buffalo. We visited a wild horse sanctuary – be still my heart! We even saw a rattlesnake but thankfully he was on the road and NOT on one of our trails.

I was breathing deeply of fresh, pine scented air with no pollens irritating my allergies. I was hiking and observing breathtaking views, filled with awe at the sights so different from those at home. Evenings were spent sitting around my own Survivor-like tiki torches when we couldn’t have a fire, star-gazing and just being in the moment. On the few nights we were able to have a fire, I sat staring into the flames; listening to the sounds of the night, emptying my head of endless thoughts, and letting the breeze carry my worries away.

Photo by HiDee Ekstrom 2018Relaxing. Refueling my wells. Rebuilding myself. 

A week after returning home, my glass is glued back together. My emotional well feels strong. My mental well feels capable and in control once again. My physical well feels rested and refreshed. And best of all, my creative well is overflowing! 

I hope I learned from this experience how important it is to take care of myself.

What do you do to refuel your well-being? Please share.