Sunday, November 17, 2019

Our Editors Can Write: Books from the IFW Family

Want to give the gift of reading or writing? We have you covered. First, we have gift certificates good for any our services, available in any dollar amount. If you want to truly encourage the writer in your life—or give a gift to yourself, we are offering 10% off the face value of all gift certificates ordered by December 25. Get it here!

If you or your loved one are more inclined towards reading, we have a selection of books by our Inspiration for Writers family for your enjoyment.

First up is Sandy Tritt, the founder and CEO of Inspiration for Writers, Inc. Although she normally writes fiction, her two most recent books are nonfiction. Her selections include a book for the writer in your life and one for the reader.

The PLAIN ENGLISH Writer's Workbook explains writing concepts in simple terms. It's written for fiction and memoir writers of all levels, from beginners to previously published. This workbook includes nine worksheets with detailed instructions to help you plot, create memorable characters, and edit your own work like a pro. Throughout the workbook, generous samples are given to show the right and wrong way to perform various techniques. EVERY WRITER NEEDS THIS BOOK.

LAUNDRY TO LOVE -- Everything I Know about Life.  When Sandy's oldest daughter was nearing high school graduation, Sandy suffered a major panic attack. Had she taught her daughter everything she needed to know? Had she shared the family recipes? Did her daughter understand the ethics she wanted to pass along? Sandy made notes all the things her daughters would need to know, then organized them by topic. As she cooked, she measured the pinches and pours and created recipes. Described as a marriage of Robert Fulghum and Martha Stewart, Laundry to Love gives practical hints, creative solutions, and unique outlooks on life (as well as 66 favorite family recipes)—a handbook for young women and men as they step out on their own. Perfect as a graduation or wedding gift, this book is also excellent for anyone who enjoys a fresh perspective sprinkled with a little humor. Laundry to Love is the life instruction book you didn't get. Until now.

Next is Charlotte Firbank-King (C.F. King), a prolific writer and artist living in South Africa. She’s been editing and ghostwriting for Inspiration for Writers for about fifteen years. Here are a few of her own books. 

Cape of Storms, 1872.

A spoilt liberal English girl arrives in the Cape Colony ready to take off into Africa. No one has ever thwarted her, until she meets her father's taciturn wine estate manager. 

Dara, the headstrong English suffragette arrive in the Calvinistic Cape Colony like a whirlwind. She is a gifted photographer and finds trouble the moment she sets foot in Africa. Her outspoken opinions set her at odds with the hardworking, reclusive Oran, who manages her father's two wine estates in Stellenbosch. 

Dara's ailing father, in England, asked Oran to take her on a photographic safari. Oran readily agreed to his mentor's request, until he met her. Not only is Dara irresistibly beautiful, but she's contentious and a magnet for trouble. Claiming it's inappropriate to spend months alone with Dara, Oran delays the trip for reasons that don't suit her. Then events take an unexpected turn for both of them and Dara takes off with only her maid. She heads into the savage interior with no idea of how to survive the vast African wilderness. Oran chases after her from the Cape Colony to the Kimberly diamond fields, then to Zululand -- a kingdom in turmoil as their new king, Cetshwayo, is crowned. Even here, Dara manages to find deadly trouble.  

Hanoverian England, 1745 and the second Jacobite uprising. A man is so driven by revenge and righteous anger that the line between good and evil becomes blurred.

Marquis Blake de Montfort's life is dark and his past violent. He is haunted by a murdered wife and child and obsessed with avenging their deaths. He ceases to care what separates good from evil as he walks his twilight path. Blake is the most powerful man at court, but his power is not vested in parliament -- it's more insidious. He's a ruthless spymaster, hated by men, desired by women, and feared by all.

Blake is forced to marry Tanisha Ashburn, who unwittingly draws him from his path of destruction, but she has no idea she's surrendered her life to intrigue, the lusts of men, and finally, betrayal. 

There is no way to control a truly fiery free-spirit, except to crush it or risk burning with desire in the flames.

Against the Victorian backdrop of Impressionism and the awakening of women's rights, the naive Calla is a free-spirited, wild artist. Orphaned as a child and reared by the aged but liberal Earl of Felton, Calla has never known restraint, social or otherwise -- until he dies.

Fire meets ice. Ryder is a lieutenant colonel ruled by discipline. From infancy, he has never known anything except restraint. Forced to leave his military career to take on the responsibility of a title, Ryder chooses a worthy lady to marry, but his is unprepared  for the added responsibility of a ward, much less the lovely, unruly Calla. Determined to see her subdued and suitably married off, Ryder's ordered life unravels in his pursuit to control her.

Cape of Storms, Africa, 1853. A harsh society, not a good place or time to be born a bastard.

One man takes Roark's identity before birth. Those meant to nurture him shroud his life in secrets, abuse his body and break his spirit, until pride and his love for Tavia are all that remain. Then they tear away his love. The only recourse of a baseborn child, now a dangerous man, is revenge.

Next on the list, we have Eric Fritzius, Inspiration for Writers' technical and website guru--as well as a prolific writer, editor, playwright, audiobook narrator, graphics designer, ebook formatter, and actor. His keen sense of humor keeps us all smiling, and his stories of the unknown keep us awake at night.

A CONSTERNATION OF MONSTERS  A collection of 10 short stories of monsters and the paranormal in the tradition of the Twilight Zone, available in print ($12.99), ebook ($5.99), and audiobook ($14.95) formats. (Hear a SAMPLE)  

West Virginia Writers, Inc., proudly presents Writerly Advice, a series of lessons offering tips, tricks, and inspiration for writers of all skill levels and genres, written by over 20 talented member of West Virginia Writers, Inc., including a chapter by Eric himself.

Other books narrated by Eric Fritzius:

MISSISSIPPI NIGHTS by D.M. Webb, narrated by Eric Fritzius — A Christian romantic thriller that tells a story of one firefighter's struggles overcoming pain and addiction, which affect not only himself but those around him—especially his new love.  Audiobook available from AmazonAudible, and iTunes.  (Hear a SAMPLE)

HOW TO CARRY BIGFOOT HOME by Chris Tarry, narrated by Eric Fritzius — a collection of adult literary fiction featuring settings and characters both grounded and fantastical, with equal parts comedy and often harrowing drama.  Audiobook available from AmazonAudible, and iTunes.  (Hear a SAMPLE)

THE BLACK STAR OF KINGSTON by S.D. Smith, read by Eric Fritzius — A middle grade adventure novel featuring rabbits with swords. This is the first part of Smith's Tales of Old Natalia, which is a prequel series to his Green Ember series of novels.  

Audiobook available from AmazonAudible, and iTunes.  (Hear a SAMPLE)

THE LAST ARCHER by S.D. Smith, read by Eric Fritzius — A middle grade adventure novel featuring rabbits with swords as well as bows and arrows.  A side-story set during the events of Smith’s Green Ember main series. Audiobook available from AmazonAudible, and iTunes.  (Hear a SAMPLE)

THE WRECK AND RISE OF WHITSON MARINER is the second installment of S.D. Smith's Green Ember prequel series, Tales of Old Natalia, and the sequel to The Blackstar of Kingston.
Available from Amazon and Audible. (Hear a SAMPLE.)

I know what you’re thinking: Where are the romances? No worries. Sandi Rog has you covered for sweet romances that have just the right amount of heartache. Sandi was the first editor to join Inspiration for Writers, way back in its early days—like maybe 1999? (But who’s counting? 😉) Sandi is also a prolific writer and editor, and is the founder of Tulpen Publishing, a Christian traditional publishing company.

By the way, Out of the Ashes won FIRST PLACE in the FHL Reader's Choice Awards. This was a prestigious contest (as they are associated with RWA) and not a popularity contest, so we’re really proud of her! 

by Sandi Rog

A stranger. A kiss. A shotgun wedding.

NATHANIEL WARD, a wealthy entrepreneur, needs a wife. But he’s not interested in the preening, high-society women who are offered to him on a silver platter. He wants one woman, and one woman alone: the girl who gave him all the money in her reticule years ago when the Great Chicago Fire left him destitute. He sets out to find this woman and discovers she’s unattached. There’s only one problem: a shotgun wedding may be able to bind them, but will he ever be able to win her heart?

AMELIA E. TAYLOR blows a kiss to a street rat. Little did she know, years later that kiss would follow her to Green Pines Colorado. When a handsome stranger arrives in her hometown, she guards her heart from the stirrings this man ignites. Despite society’s disapproval of spinsterhood, she is determined not to marry, having witnessed first-hand the lack of love and the horrors that accompany marriage. But will a shotgun wedding reveal blessings that arise out of the ashes?

Next is Jessica Nelson, intern/editor/social media go-to-girl for IFW since 2014. Her prose poem I Am Not a Poet can be found in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Vol. VII, Homer Hickam Edition and her poem Irish Road Bowling (based on an old Irish sport that the men in her family have dragged her all over the state of West Virginia to play) is featured in the Anthology of AppalachianWriters, Vol. X, Wiley Cash Edition. The volumes also contain the works of respected writers such as Marc Harshman (poet laureate of West Virginia), Randi Ward, M. Lynne Squires, Anna Egan Smucker, and Natalie Sypolt. These anthologies are perfect for the readers in your life who love poetry and prose both but just can’t get through a full-length novel. (Photo credit: Wiley Cash.) 

For the readers in your life who may not have the patience for a full novel or prefer the potato chip-addictiveness of short stories, look no further than our own Rhonda Browning White! In addition to her work with IFW as a ghostwriter and editor, her writing appears in Qu Literary Journal, Hospital Drive, HeartWood Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, Ploughshares, Writing Lessons, Tiny Text, NewPages, South 85 Journal, The Skinny Poetry Journal, WV Executive, Mountain Echoes, Gambit, Justus Roux, Bluestone Review, and the anthologies Ice Cream Secrets, Appalachia's Last Stand, and Mountain Voices. You can find even more on her Read. Write. Live! blog. Make sure to check out her work! 

Her book The Lightness of Water of Other Stories is the winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. The characters in these emotionally charged stories deal with loneliness, loss, greed, and guilt. They, like all of us, wrestle with the people, places, and memories they cling to, belong to, and run from, learning (sometimes too late) that these experiences remain with them forever. The stories in The Lightness of Water and Other Stories are bound by a strong sense of place -- Appalachia and the South -- and prove that no matter where we go, there's no place far enough to leave home behind. 

Last, but most certainly not least, we present Geoffrey Cameron Fuller, a New York Times best-selling author--and an editor and ghostwriter for IFW. He is the author or co-author of five books, including Full Bone Moon (a work of fiction inspired by the infamous WVU co-ed murders of the 1970s, which can be accompanied by his podcast about the real case), and his writing is credited in another dozen books.    

Geoff recently teamed with Daleen Berry (Sister of Silence) to write about the stabbing murder of high school honor student Skylar Neese by her two best friends. Their  work resulted in two books, The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese (BenBella Books; February 2014) and Pretty Little Killers: The Truth Behind the Savage Murder of Skylar Neese (BenBella Books; July 2014). The crime and the books were featured on Dateline (NBC), Dr. Phil (NBC), 20/20 (ABC), and I Killed My BFF (Lifetime). The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese peaked at #12 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the second book, released in July 2014, is also selling well.

Thanks for reviewing our books. Remember, we are always here to help you write or edit your own books, and from now until December 25, gift certificates for our services are 10% off. Just email The first sample edit is free!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Rekindling our Passion

by Sandy Tritt

Passion. You remember what that feels like, right? When suddenly the world becomes brighter, clearer—like you’ve been living in a black-and-white two-dimensional world and suddenly wake up to brilliant colors in three dimensions. 

Whew! It’s exciting. Whether the object of our passion is a person, religion, organization, hobby—whatever—it’s as though our entire world brightens.

And time? Time no longer exists—as long as we're involved with our passion. Hours disappear in what seems like minutes. Nothing matters except being with our passion.

Yes. Sweet, sweet passion.

And passion not only changes how we view things, it changes how others view us. When we are passionate, others are drawn to us. They feel our excitement, admire our determination, and want to be near the energy our passion generates.

I remember when I was passionate about writing. Nothing could stop me from doing it. I wrote late into the night. I wrote during my lunch break at work. I wrote while stirring spaghetti sauce. I wrote every day. Even though I managed to hold down a demanding career—while also being a wife, mother and housekeeper—the fire of my passion ran hot through my veins and never dissipated.

Until one day, it did.

I’m not sure when it happened. Life is tough, and we deal with a myriad of situations. Growing children. Work problems. Financial difficulties. Marital issues. Aging parents. Health issues. People we love die. It goes on and on. There’s always something to throw water on our flame.  

Yet . . . I’ve always believed that if we’re given a passion to do something, we should do it. It’s our calling in life. We never know when our time on earth will be up. What if we spend our entire lives putting aside our passion to deal with other stuff? What if a bit of depression steals our energy and we get bogged down with just trying to survive? What if we allow our passion to die, taking us along with it?

Fortunately, I am blessed with good friends. They noticed my flame going out. They called me on it. “Why aren’t you working on your novel?” they asked. “Why haven’t you finished that thing yet?”

Oh, I had excuses. Plenty of them. “I don’t have time,” I complained. “My eyes are tired after a long day of work.”

“Send me what you have,” my close friend and co-worker Charl insisted. “Let me help you.” She looked at my novel with fresh eyes, making suggestions, asking questions, adding details.

And something in me stirred. My heart beat a little faster. I wanted to start working on my novel again. I really did. But when? My schedule was already overfull.

More than twenty years ago, when I first started Inspiration for Writers, I had problems with time management. It seemed like I was constantly working, yet I didn't get as much done as I thought I should’ve. My writer friend Rhonda explained how she had set office hours for her work-from-home business. When she was in her home office, she worked only on writing and editing and refused interruptions. And when her workday was done, she closed her computer and didn’t look back. I adopted those policies and found I was not only more productive, but I also had another life, a non-working life.

Of course, work on my own writing was always at the bottom of my to-do list, somewhere after rearranging the alphabet and solving killer sudoku puzzles, so it never happened. But maybe, if I changed my priorities a bit, I could find some time?

I spent a weekend with my novel. My pulse quickened and my energy levels grew. Like discovering the fountain of youth, my heart beat happiness into every cell of my body.

My passion was still there!

That little spark caught hold and soon the fire glowed hot. My thoughts returned to the characters I loved, the story that intrigued me—the story that no one but me could tell, the story I was meant to write.

Better yet, passion creates energy. I needed less sleep, so I had more hours in the day. More importantly, I had more energy.

My passion was back!

I tightened my schedule, eliminated a few time-drains, and reserved an hour a day to spend on me—and sometimes more on weekends. Just me. Just me and my passion.

What about you? Has life taken the heat out of your passion? Have you abandoned your writing because there’s not enough time in a day? Have you allowed your purpose in life to linger at the bottom of your to-do list?  

Email us at We can help. We offer a free sample edit or consultation to help you rediscover the passion that once energized your life.

And we give away encouragement for free. Just ask!

Because no one should live without passion.

And no one should die without fulfilling his or her purpose.

Visit us at We are one of the oldest and most respected writing and editing companies around. Check us out.

© 2019 Inspiration for Writers, Inc. This blog post may be printed, reposted, and shared as long as it is copied in its entirety and this copyright notice is included.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Adventures in Research

Sandy Tritt
by Sandy Tritt

I thought it would be fun if we all shared some of the adventures we've had in the name of research. We'll pick the best ones and share them on this blog (with the writer's permission, of course).

Back in the pre-internet days, we didn't have a way to just turn on a computer, google something, and find out what we needed to know to make our fiction jump alive with authenticity.  One writer friend of mine who wrote murder mysteries called the local police department to inquire as to how long it would be before a dead body would begin to decay, and how deep a body would need to be buried to ensure the smell wouldn't escape. Even though she had told them she was a writer and needed to know for a story she was writing, within minutes her property was surrounded by law enforcement. They searched every inch of her property before finally deciding yes, she was just a writer.

These are the kind of stories we want to hear. I'll start the fun by copying one of my Adventures in Research. I still have pangs of guilt (and embarrassment) at the thought of this, but, hey, we live and learn.


I sat in my car and waited until five past the hour. Convinced the last stragglers had arrived, I sneaked through the heavy oak doors and slithered against the back wall, willing myself invisible. Normal people would have been satisfied to interview others or finish their research from the library, but not me. I wanted to experience an AA meeting personally so my fiction could sing with authenticity. So, here I was, feigning to be a coat rack, hoping no one would notice me.

I glanced around the room. It would be almost impossible in my small town not to recognize anyone, and sure enough, they were there. The sophisticated blue-haired lady was my best friend’s aunt. And the lady in red looked familiar as well—my mind scanned for where I'd seen her—my father's business associate, perhaps? And in the opposite corner stood Mr. Bogreens, the custodian at my church.

I should have left before anyone saw me, stepped back through the door as silently as I'd entered. I slid my right foot toward the exit, then moved my left to catch up. I concentrated on getting out, on escaping from this poorly planned escapade.

"Door prize?" A man with soft walnut eyes pressed an index card into my hand.

"No, thanks," I whispered.

"The first one's free," he said.

"No. I'm not—"

"Everyone enters the door prize," he said, his voice rising.

Fearing a commotion, I scribbled my name and mumbled my thanks. The rest of the group had formed a circle, but I didn’t join. I felt safe in my obscure spot by the door. I took out my note pad and concentrated on capturing all the details I needed to make my fiction real. A bare light bulb dangled from a dusty wire—surely it could be twisted into an apt analogy. Harvest gold paint decorated the walls and avocado green shag carpeting covered the concrete floors—leftovers from the seventies, as were some of those in attendance. 

The first speaker took his spot behind the podium and led the group in prayer. The PA system must have been a donation from the old high school stadium, because his voice blasted through the ceiling with the resonance of God's very own. I listened to the tone of the speaker's voice and watched his mannerisms as he spoke of his disease and recovery. I waited for the words I expected, "Hi, my name is Bob, and I'm an alcoholic . . ." And soon, sooner than I'd expected, the meeting adjourned with the recitation of the Serenity Prayer.

I'd survived. I buttoned my jacket and slid toward the door. Hopefully, no one had seen me.

Someone tapped the mike twice, then spoke so loudly her words hung on the ceiling and I had to wait for them to trickle down before I could make them out. "Sandy Tritt! Sandy Tritt!" The neon words fell from above, over and over, beating me down.

"You Sandy?" An elderly man pointed his arthritic finger at me.

I wanted to deny it, but by this time the buzzing crowd swarmed around me, and I understood how Jesus Christ felt when the crowd screamed, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

"You Sandy?" a young woman demanded.

I nodded, swearing to myself and to God above that I'd never again infiltrate sacred meetings in the name of research.

The kind-looking man I remembered from earlier shuffled over to me. "Congratulations," he said. "You won the door prize."

"I—I don't want it," I whispered, eying my escape.

A woman with evil eyebrows thrust a microphone in my face. "Speech!"

I was caught. There was no way out. What could I do? I took a deep breath, leaned into the mike, and made my confession. "Hi. My name is Sandy, and I'm—" I looked at the now silent crowd hanging onto my every word and realized the man in back looked way too much like one of my daughter's teachers, and undoubtedly the press was there and my picture would be splattered across the front page of Sunday's paper. My charade was over. There was nothing left for me to do, so I hung my head and admitted my addiction. "And I'm a writer."


Now it's your turn. Send us your stories! Email Sandy at