PSYCH WARD Cover Reveal Day!

Guess what today is? It’s cover reveal day for Psych Ward, my first thriller/mystery/action novel with a touch of romance written under the penname E. J. Fleming. Read on for the full blurb and cover with Daniel Rengering, dubbed Gainesville, Florida’s HOTCOP (can’t say I disagree…) Photo credit to Zachary Jayden, Popwrapped.

Final Front Cover with Penname

Chase Yarden never thought he’d see her again, but there she was sipping coffee in a tiny café in Venice. She looked different, but he would know her anywhere–the woman who ruined his life.

The four Yarden boys loved the four Ward girls nearly all their lives, a fact the small town of Douglas, Texas wouldn’t soon forget. On a night of celebration, one of the Ward girls is shot dead in the street. Only days later, the entire Ward family vanishes, leaving nothing behind but four broken men.

Long after the girls are gone, the boys are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives–a difficult task when left with more questions than answers. Determined to find those answers, Chase sets out to track down his ex-fiancé with the help of her sister’s journal. The secrets he reads between the faded leather cover torment him, until finding her becomes his sole purpose in life.

Five long years pass with nothing more than a few measly leads, until one day the woman appears out of nowhere with a warning Chase isn’t keen on hearing. Chase is thrust into a world he’d only seen in movies. Assassins, spies, murder and mayhem–the stuff of his worst nightmares become a reality he cannot escape.

Once desperate to find answers no matter the cost, Chase soon realizes the price may be higher than he was willing to pay. With enemies around every corner, Chase and his brothers find themselves in the middle of an international war that began long before they were born.

Can the Yarden boys trust the Ward girls with their lives, or will they pay the ultimate sacrifice?


Wattpad Famous?

Ahh…it feels nice to be behind a keyboard again after dodging a monster storm,  throwing a three-year-old’s birthday party, and prepping for some big personal events (all good things, don’t worry).  But now that I’m back, I’m having some difficulty getting back into the swing of things, especially writing my blog.  I beat my head trying to come up with a topic and finally settled on one that has been fairly popular for me on Wattpad.

How do I get reads, comments, and votes on Wattpad?  How did I earn over 6,400 followers in under a year?  How am I pseudo-popular on Wattpad?

There isn’t one answer that will tell you what you want to know, but I will discuss a few things that I have done that I think significantly contributed to my success on the writing app.

Your Story Should Be Polished (or readable, in the very least) First and foremost, you’re manuscript should be as close to perfect as you can get it on your first run.  I like to post my updates with minimal editing because I like the input my readers give me, and I often incorporate their ideas during my first round of serious edits.  Readers will usually excuse an error or two in an update as long as the rest of the writing is quality and captures their attention.  However, I’ve been writing for over a decade, so my first rounds are usually a little more polished than some.  Note I didn’t say perfect; Heaven only knows if I wrote a perfect manuscript in the first go I’d be J. K. Rowling rich by now!

It bears mentioning, if you post an update that is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, plot holes (that you don’t intend to fill within a chapter or two), fragmented sentences or run-ons, and generally sloppy writing, then your readers will disappear.

Apply to be Featured  Follow Wattpad’s rules for submitting your story to fill their Featured Section!  It’s free, and fairly easy to submit your work.  I did this with The Yellow Note and went from a few hundred reads over six months, to three million in the four months after it was accepted as a feature!  It wasn’t a perfect story, but with the increased readership I was able to find issues that I would not have picked up on my own.

Having a featured story increases readership which increases votes and comments.  The more people like what you write, the more followers you earn, which brings me to my next point.

Be Kind to Your Following  If you treat your followers like tuna fish, they will unfollow you in a heartbeat.  These readers like your work enough to follow you, and with any luck, they will become loyal supporters.  I have earned several friends this way, including four I rely on regularly for advice on cover work, plots, character building, etc.  (and maybe a few who I like to talk to for the giggles of it, you know who you are!)

If your followers are also writers, read their work.  Vote, comment, and help them where you can.  This is one area I admit I lack commitment, primarily because I am usually busy chasing a child, keeping up with my house, writing or editing, and other things that life says I must do.  But I fit it in where I can, and it makes my friends happy.

Respond to Comments  This can get tricky once your work takes off, and it’s one of the reasons I removed The Yellow Note from Wattpad.  I loved the comments, but I found myself receiving over 300 a day, which was far more than I was prepared to handle.

Responding to comments should be fun, and it should connect you to your audience.  It’s the best way to earn followers.  But what happens when the trolls come out to play?  Ignore them.  I learned that lesson the hard way after trading one too many blows with someone whose only desire was to get a rise out of me.  I’m a red head, it’s not difficult.  It ruined my day and stuck with me, making me feel lousy about my writing and connection to my “fans.”  When I decided to ignore those comments (or better yet, delete them), I was able to focus on the hundreds of positive ones that brightened my day.

Connect to Your Audience  I’m a 37 year old female from the east coast of the US, yet I’ve found myself having the most interesting conversations on Wattpad with people who are very different from me.  I’ve had mature conversations with twelve-year-olds, and I’ve fangirled with forty-year-olds.  I’ve discussed politics and religion with people who grew up on the other side of the world.

How do you connect with people who are so drastically different and whose interests are as varied as they are?  Read what they write, read their comments and start a conversation, view their profiles, and the most fun…CONTESTS!

I’ve had a few, and they don’t have to be big to be fun.  A cover design contest or a scavenger hunt draw people into your world, and who doesn’t like to learn something new?  The prizes for winners can be as simple as allowing the winner to choose a character name or cover design, even an actor or actress to “play” the part of the main character.  It’s fun, and people remember you.

And last but not least…

Network Like Crazy  Read a story you enjoyed?  Mention it in an author’s note between chapter updates (be sure to include the profile name).  It spreads the love and helps undiscovered writers gain a following.  In return, you earn a friend and a loyal reader.

If you find something exceptional, leave the author a personal message on their wall  or in the private message space.  I know it makes me feel great when someone tells me how my work has influenced them!


I love the Wattpad community, and I’m  so happy to be a part of it.  If you follow my suggestions, I can almost guarantee you’ll increase your votes, reads, comments and followers over time.  It takes dedication, but anything worth doing does.

You wrote a fantastic story and poured your heart into it, why not pour your heart into making sure it succeeds?


Banging Your Head Against the Wall

Writer’s block.  Two of the nastiest words in the English language when they get together to throw a party in your mind.  If you’re like me, your writer’s block manifests itself as empty stares, wandering thoughts involving grocery lists, and that dog meme you saw on twitter yesterday.  So, what do you do when you have writer’s block?

I have asked that question a thousand times, and I’ve gotten a thousand answers.  I’ve been asked quite a bit as well, and I finally have the best answer.  You do everything and nothing.  Whaaaaat?

Yep, do nothing.  It’s OKAY to take a break from your work and do something else, even for a few days.  Note, I did NOT say don’t write – that would be foolish.  Write something, just don’t force yourself to write the next chapter of that manuscript, because I promise you won’t like the outcome.  You’ll rip your hair out when the editing process begins, and you will ask yourself what on earth you were thinking.  Alien unicorns in historical non-fiction?!

Write a short story, a poem, a random list of things you want to do before you die.  You’ll find writing anything at all helps clear the blockage, and before you know it you’ll be digging out from the rubble of the hundreds of ideas that fall on you when the wall comes tumbling down!

Or, do everything.  Can’t figure out what your MC should do in the impossible predicament you’ve put her in?  Write an alternate point-of-view!  Write from the villain’s perspective, write from the love interest’s perspective, write from the fly on the wall’s perspective!  Not only does it free up space in your mind to be creative without the pressure of knowing this chapter will be in your final manuscript, but it also helps you understand your minor character’s better.

That makes no sense, you say.  I already know my characters, I wrote them after all, you say.  Trust me, you don’t.  You think you do, but until you shake off the persona of your MC, you can’t really see your supporting characters clearly.

But that’s a waste of time!  Is it any more a waste of time than staring at your computer waiting for inspiration?  Probably not.  And look at it this way, if you plan on redeeming your villain in some way, it helps to know what he/she is thinking and feeling.  It will come through in your work and when the time comes for the redemption arc, your readers will swallow the pill a little easier.  You’ll always have that one person who wouldn’t forgive a bear for pooping in the woods, but you’re not really writing for that person anyway.

Have a strong MC but a wimpy lover?  Give him or her a stronger presence (thereby making a stronger love) by climbing in the character’s brain.  Your readers will feel that love more strongly if you feel it!  I don’t feel quite right if I haven’t made myself cry writing the sappy scenes.

Don’t like alternate POVs?  Write the ending to your book.  You surely have some idea how you want your work to wrap up, so write it!  Don’t worry, no one will know if you changed it entirely by the time you get to the actual ending, but it gives you a goal.  How do you fill the space between where you are and your final destination?  You’ll be surprised what having the final written chapter can do to help you fill in the blank space.

What do you do if these tips don’t help you?  Watch TV, listen to music, read a book by an author outside of your genre, read a book by an author in your genre, read a dictionary (seriously, that little trick has helped me twice – no kidding), take a walk, call a friend on the actual phone (yes, they will probably think you’re insane), play with your pet, leave your writing space for a while and look at the world, run ideas by a trusted beta reader or friend, do one of the things on your to -do list.

Do whatever works for you, because honestly that’s the way the world works.  Everyone is different, and not every tip will work for you.  And sometimes what works now won’t work later.  It’s frustrating, I know .  We ALL know, because we’ve all been there at least once – twice on Tuesdays!

Don’t let it stop you from putting the words down.  Someone wants to hear what you have to say; wouldn’t it be a pity if you never say it?  Just keep trying techniques, and one day you’ll be doing this…


When Do You Become a Writer?

We’ve all done it.  You’re scrolling through Facebook and you come across a “quiz” that tells you who you are (because algorithms know everything), and you click on it only to find you have apparently been living your life all wrong!

Sigh…I did just that today, and now I’m downright irate.  I should have known better, but I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on that “Should You be a Writer?” quiz that kept popping up in my feed.  I took the quiz.  Guess what?  I shouldn’t be a writer.

Why?  Evidently it’s a lot of work.  Evidently you need 427 years of schooling to put words on paper that inspire others.  Evidently I am not creative enough, because I also happen to like watching more than one television show.

It was discouraging for about thirteen seconds.  Then I remembered that silly quiz didn’t know me.  It didn’t know that I thrive from writing, or that I would do just about anything to put my thoughts on paper.  Of course, those 427 years of schooling may have helped me get started, at the very least it may have helped me remember where the commas are supposed to go, but not having it certainly won’t STOP me from doing what I love.

Folks, I have an MBA that I paid good money for – really good money, and I haven’t used that sucker once since I graduated.  Quite frankly, if I entered the business world right now, that $90K degree would probably be worthless.  The truth is, education is important, but it isn’t everything.

Experience, now THAT you cannot put a price tag on.  Empathy, sympathy, love, hope, generosity, sadness, anger – the entire human spectrum of emotion – and the things you do and see and say in your life – THAT is what makes you a writer.  Anyone can make a sentence and write it on paper, but it’s those of us who put our soul on paper that inspire others and create masterpieces.

Some may say the true gauge of success as a writer is publication, some say making the NYT Bestseller list, some say fame and fortune (sorry, not many people become JK Rowling), but I say the second you leave a little piece of yourself on the page you have become a writer.

Writing is an art form, and like any other form of art it takes practice and perseverance.  Mozart worked for ten years before he produced his first popular work.  Kobe Bryant put in thousands of hours of training before he became a star, arguably one of the best basketball players in the world.  Picasso painted a bunch of crap before he sold is first painting.  Einstein thought most of his work was junk, then he completed his Theory of Relativity – dude, he figured out gravity!  But, he didn’t do it overnight.

My point?  If you want to be a writer, then be a writer.  Put in the work and never let anyone, not even the all-powerful Facebook quiz, tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.  That said, if you will excuse me I have some writing to do.

All the love!  MJ

First blog post

I have no idea what I’m doing – I wan to be clear about that from the very beginning.  I came into this world an introvert, and an introvert I will stay until the day I die.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like people, I simply go about my appreciation a little differently.  At home.  In my pajamas.  With coffee and a book.

On this site you will find my ramblings about anything that comes to mind, primarily having to do with writing and publishing, but there will probably be some random, unimportant junk thrown in on occasion – or often, I haven’t decided yet!

My first book, The Yellow Note, racked up three million reads on Wattpad, so I thought I’d give the publishing world a try.  I thought having a cesarean section was brutal…I was wrong.  I’m used to rejection, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re judged by the first sentence that comes out of your mouth (or your page), then ignored for months on end you start to feel a little invisible.

But, Wattpad is a wonderful community and I have found several solid, loyal supporters who encourage me to write every single day.  I hope those supporters will follow me here, because I would love for this blog to become a community of individuals whose goal is writing, whether professionally or as a hobby, and supporting each other through the process.

If you want a peek into my brain, follow me on Wattpad or any of my social media pages.  You can find links to those on the Social Media tab on the main page of this blog, or you can flounder around aimlessly searching for me – whatever floats your boat.

This is my firs blog post, so I won’t bore you with my rambling just yet, but I will provide some shameless self-promotion…

The Yellow Note (hardcover and paperback) is available through Barnes and Noble here:

E-reader version will be available through Amazon in a few days, and I will post the link then.  Check out my Books tab for a brief summary of the book.

Thank you for following my rambling for today, stay tuned for more!  As a thank-you, I will leave you with a gif that does not belong to me in any way, shape, or form (please don’t sue me), but Nathaniel Buzolic is so very nice to look at…(incidentally, it’s how I feel when agents ignore me.)

Image result for Nathaniel Buzolic Gifs Drinking