Sunday, February 27, 2011


I'm very pleased to announce that the February 2011 issue of our online book review magazine "MBR Bookwatch" features a review of "Flashes from the Other World".

Here is the review:

MBR Bookwatch: February 2011
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

Shirley's Booskhelf

Flashes from the Other World
Julie Ann Weinstein
All Things That Matter Press
9780984621644 14.95

I have to say that I have never read "flash" fiction before. I wasn't sure exactly what I would find.
Inside the pages of this book were many short stories, but not the kind I was use to reading. It took me a little bit to sink my teeth into them, but when I did I just let myself go and enjoyed.

The stories are wild and wacky, scary and secretive, magical and free. Many make no sense to the natural realm, yet pull at the imagination within you and beg you to fly away with them. Others tenderly pulled on my heartstrings, and some made me giggle. Yet others held a hint of true sadness. It was like a smorgasbord of many delicious treats that beckons you to partake.
Different, fresh and inviting. Thank you Julie for sharing.

Shirley Johnson


Saturday, February 26, 2011


Be Specific
Today we will be covering the important subject of being specific in our writing. Eliminate ambiguities and vagueness–unless they are put in for specific purposes, they tend to weaken your prose. Let’s look at an example.
John had slept for almost eight hours, and was nearly shocked when he looked at the clock. Way after seven already, and he was supposed to be to work in a little less than half an hour. He rolled over and kissed Mary.
“Hi, baby,” she said, stirring with a smile. “You have to get going, don’t you?”
“You could call that the understatement of the year,” he said as he jumped out of the bed and practically ran to the bathroom to freshen up. As he showered he couldn’t get the pressing challenges of the day facing him. Seven or eight deadlines to meet with important paperwork and three or four appointments with possible investors that he still had to prepare for before noon.
See how vague that reads? You do get the definite impression that John has his butt in a late and frustrated rush, but the specifics of the situation are not clear. Let’s look now at the same passage with clarity written into it.
John had slept for eight hours, and was shocked when he looked at the clock. Twenty after seven already, and he was supposed to be to work by seven thirty. He rolled over and kissed Mary.
“Hi, baby,” she said, stirring with a smile. “You have to get going, don’t you?”
“That’s the understatement of the year,” he said as he jumped out of the bed and ran to the bathroom to freshen up. As he showered he couldn’t get the pressing challenges of the day facing him. Seven deadlines to meet with important paperwork and three appointments with possible investors that he still had to prepare for before by eleven thirty this morning.
Now we have not only the general idea of how John’s morning rush hour scene is unfolding, we have the exact specific details of just how pressed he is for time, hmm? Again, if there is some reason for not giving out specifics, perhaps you are keeping secrets from your readers for a while, got a twist coming up, or a red herring you’re not ready to let out of the bag yet, then fine–be vague about it. But if you write someone had to ‘almost’, or ‘nearly’, or ‘just about’ do something, why not tell us exactly what it is and whether they did it ... or not?

Marvin D Wilson, multi-published author and editor with All Things That Matter Press, using the pen name “Professor Old Silly,” posts writing tutorials on his blog each Tuesday. The above tutorial is a re-post from the archives of his blog at:



Nice review from:

Neat cover isn't it?It really sets the tone for the novel, which includes a talking cat! The Healings is about a depressed man and his significant other - the cat - on their journey from healer to healer for wholeness.

The book is compiled of short stories, chapters if you will, of each healing session. They depict what man, He, and cat, Her, are doing, how they got there, and what they are hoping to achieve. The answer is not always what they were looking for, but it offers great insight to the man and the cat.

Each time He realizes something, he shares it with Her. And she usually has something to say about it. They really do make the perfect pair - they balance one another impeccably. Often times humorous, each session reveals a truth about mankind. Sometimes it's bewildering, and other times you will be nodding your head in agreement with the scenarios play out on their quest.

One of my favorite healing sessions was the Healing Session of Hobbies. He's bored, so He tells her so. She is so rattled, her hair stands on end. But She doesn't say a word and He embarqs on finding his hobby. After trying a few different things, He decides he already has a hobby - his depression! How sad, yet he realizes that it is his hobby that keeps him adventuring.

Oana has written a stunning, thought-provoking novel of a voyage of two flawed characters who compliment one another impeccably. The writing is constant and true, keeping this reader entertained long into the night turning the pages sharing their journey. Character development is strong and brilliant. He and Her are amazing characters that sparkle, even when they are morose. Oana has a keen sense of humor that shines through in her writing. I highly recommend The Healings to any reader!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


In this session we will complete the two-part tutorial on the all important aspect of writing, that being able to do a quality job of self-editing before submitting your manuscript.

1. Get rid of weak, qualifying words and phrases.
You’ve already searched and destroyed the majority of those dreaded adverbs ending in “ly,” especially those dangling at the end of a sentence or dialog tag, but other words can also weaken your prose. They don’t appear as adverbs or adjectives, but they function the same. Seek out and eliminate these words:
Almost, less, seldom, even, always, maybe, soon, more, perhaps, then, very, many, far, never, today, well, sometimes, just, perhaps
Next, search for and rewrite or eliminate worn-out “turning phrases” like these:
Of course, nevertheless, for example, in fact, however, seemingly, in spite of, besides which
These short lists contain the most overused and abused. Others exist, but this is a good start.

2. Eliminate all clichés.
Clichés are boring, plagiarized bits of wisdom expressed in a set formula. You are a writer. Show us your creativity, amaze us! When you write your first draft and a cliché seems to fit and no better phrase comes to mind, go ahead and key it in. But when you go back to self-edit, use clichés as opportunities to shine. Rewrite with originality and in keeping with your style and your story. Where you might have written the cliché, “My whole world was turned upside down,” you might rewrite, and for this example let’s say you are writing a sci-fi, “My entire universe got sucked into a black hole.”

And now, for part two of our lesson today, I have three words for you.
Cut the fat.

Typically, a well done self-edit should reduce your manuscript’s total word count by at least 10 percent. Cut the fat and get to the meat of the story. Here’s an example:
Mary decided that enough was enough and that John had abused her just one too many times. She decided then and there that she must stand up for herself. She quickly snatched the rolling pin that she had on the counter and slammed him very hard, right squarely in the forehead with it.
The above example is loaded with unnecessary words that slow the action. Look at all the needless uses of “that;” and several other words can be cut without losing any story. Look at this rewrite:

Mary decided, enough. John had abused her too many times. She must stand up for herself. She snatched the rolling pin on the counter and slammed him in the forehead.
See how much more direct impact that has? Here’s one more:

John staggered backward, all the way back into the wall, holding the wound that Mary had just delivered, his hands on his forehead, coated with the blood that was spilling down quickly.
Lots of excess here. You’re probably chuckling at my blatancy. Here’s how I would rewrite this overly plump passage:

John grabbed his forehead and staggered back into the wall with blood spilling down his hands.
One more final recommendation and then we’ll be done for the day. You should have a trusted “Designated Honest Reader” (DHR). Have someone read your manuscript who is well-read and who knows good literature from bad. Someone who loves you and cares enough about your writing career to tell you straight-up what they like and/or do not like about your story, even if some of the feedback hurts. Preferably this person is close enough that you can be in the same house and observe them when they read your book. When the DHR puts it down and goes to fix a cup of coffee or do something else, walk over to the manuscript and see – which scene was so easy to put down?

In closing I’m adding to your recommended reading the following books: On Writing, by Stephen King, and my all-time favourite “how-to” handbook for self-editing, The Frugal Editor, by Carolyn Howard Johnson.

Marvin D Wilson, multi-published author and editor with All Things That Matter Press, using the pen name “Professor Old Silly,” posts writing tutorials on his blog each Tuesday. The above tutorial is a re-post from the archives of his blog at:


Just released, Book II of THE WAKING GOD TRILOGY!  a treatise on our times that you must not overlook.

Andrew, the young comparative religions professor from Book I, knows what he needs to do. He needs to give the still sleeping Adam flesh, by mating with a young and mysterious Middle Eastern woman known as Mara. The time is right at last, so what can possibly stop Andrew and Mara from coming together in fulfillment of prophecy? Well, for one thing, there's Michael.
And then there are those who follow Michael, the great archangel who's made it his mission to keep humanity in its current ignorant and deluded state. Ranged on the looming battle's other side are Mantrella, Bringer of Light, and those who follow him. Meanwhile, Earth itself convulses as its inhabitants endure the plagues of Revelation. Will those who can stop Michael act in time? And even if they do, will they prevail?

We sincerely hope that you enjoyed BOOK I of the Trilogy. It sets the stage for THE SACRED ROTA and the progression of events that leads to THE SECOND COMING OF HUMANITY.  Many readers have commented that the series has many levels of meaning. Our response has often been that in order to understand what we are saying, the reader must read between the lines. By this we mean that the real story and meaning flow not from just the written word, but also from the inner spirit that guides us all to greater levels of awareness.

When you finish this book, ask yourself the following questions:  “What was meant by the term, Sacred Rota?” Is it just some old religious tribunal, or does it have a broader meaning in the context of our changing times? We have presented a story where all notions of good and evil are turned onto their heads. Is this done just for the sake of sensationalism, or has humanity been led into an intellectual abyss where the concepts of such terms have been distorted to keep the ‘faithful’ in line? Read between the lines and see if the ‘age of worn-out dogma’ is indeed at an end.

Here's when Lucifer harangues an Archangel: “You create demons and false hopes of redemption.  You build them mighty temples and give with one hand and slaughter with the other.  You have kept them separate and ignorant and give just enough to raise empty hopes.  You destroy their prophets and burn their seers.  If they question, you put them to the rack and crush all semblance of free thought.  You give them a doctrine of poverty and offer riches in your fantasy heaven.  Kill in the name of god and your treasure shall be immeasurable.  You divide them and thus conquer them, and tell them they have no responsibility but to be good sheep and to follow your demented dictates.”  This strikes me as an apt description of global religion.  Piers Anthony


To Begin Again is a collection of short stories and essays that focus on the subtle realizations we all come to that, often unexpectedly, lead to life-altering circumstances. 

“Moving, intense, yet crafted with a delicate touch, To Begin Again is a unique collection of stories that urges us to examine the complex wounds and wonderments of the human experience.
—Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
“Jen Knox has put her unique characters in situations with twists and turns that constantly surprise.  Her mesmerizing short story collection, To Begin Again, is a wonderful ride through homes and bars and yard sales we can all recognize while we laugh or cringe.”
—Steve Lindahl, author of Motherless Soul
"Using a masterful mix of fiction and creative nonfiction, Jen Knox explores the human condition with wisdom, subtlety, and the understanding that sometimes just asking the question is answer enough.   Her crisp prose and sharp observations expose the underbelly of lives we all lead, expressing feelings and ideas to everyone that we wish we had the words to express to ourselves.  To Begin Again is a wonderful collection of stories and essays about life, and living."
—Dave Hoing, author of Hammon Falls and Voices of Arra 
“This volume could as easily be titled ‘stories with a gentle touch.’ To Begin Again is a delectable collation of vignettes: lives in transition and oh so human experiences. Jen Knox has once again proven to be a skilled weaver of words and an architect of a gossamer web in which over and over again we find our own reflections.”
—Kenneth Weene, author of Widow's Walk and Memoirs from the Asylum