Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


Welcome Sheila Hurst

100_1226Today I’m excited to welcome my friend, Sheila Hurst. We met several years ago through Word Press and during that time we discovered we have a lot in common. One big commonality is that both of our first published books were a result of participating in NaNoWriMo. She’s here today to share her experience and some terrific advice. Mention in your comment that you’d like to be entered in the drawing for a free e-copy of her book. The contest will close December 10, 2016.


Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog to talk about the writing process for Ocean Echoes. I’ve always loved visiting here because your posts cause so many smiles, laughs, and memories.

Anyone who has ever participated in NaNoWriMo knows all about the beginnings of my writing process. It was fueled by chocolate, coffee, take-out food, and insanity.

Unfortunately, I must not have had enough leftover Halloween candy because I didn’t make it to 50,000 words back in 2010. Still, by the end of the month I’d probably written more than ever, and that’s saying a lot because I used to be a reporter. Ironically, I left that job because I didn’t want to feel like a writing factory and there wasn’t enough chocolate involved.

I loved the wild ride of NaNoWriMo. I didn’t outline beforehand so I had no idea where the story might take me. There were rough character sketches, but that was about it. The NaNoWriMo craziness made me throw twists and turns and a few silly things into the book, things that I probably wouldn’t have done in any normal writing situation. That’s really something to embrace about NaNoWriMo, because if you’re not having fun while writing it, then reading the book isn’t going to be all that fun either.

Writing partners cheered me on through it all. We checked in with each other and commiserated often. At one point, it felt like another character should be introduced but I had no idea who that person should be. Instead of stopping to think about it for too long, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest a character.

A friend from college told me that a character based on her brother would be perfect because he’s always been interested in science and likes to wear a gorilla suit. Amazingly enough, that character is still in the book and he’s one of my favorite characters.

After NaNoWriMo, I researched and revised for years. My novel is about a marine biologist who studies jellyfish. I work at an oceanographic research facility, so a lot of that research naturally happened at work. I also made sure to read books, newspaper articles, and anything else that would help to add more details. Sometimes I’d simply be reading the newspaper and an article filled with needed facts would start waving at me. Through it all, I kept revising.

It’s true that by the end of NaNoWriMo, you just might end up with a crazy draft. But it’s also true that you’ll have a huge chunk of writing that can eventually be developed into a book. So to any NaNoWriMo writers out there, whether you made it to 50,000 words or not, keep going, keep revising, and remember – you can do it!


Sheila Hurst grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, contributing to a split personality involving a love of farmlands and the ocean. Early influences include Harriet the Spy, Bozo the Clown, and the books of Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She received a journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and worked as a reporter while writing fiction on the side. Her short stories have been Glimmer Train and Writer’s Digest finalists. All-time favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, John Steinbeck, and Carl Sagan.

Sheila’s book is available on Amazon.com.

A percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations.


NANOWRIMO: Love it or Hate it?

NanoSome writer’s cringe when they hear the acronym NaNoWriMo, while some get excited. The non-writers might be left scratching their head and asking, what the heck is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a writing competition held every November. It challenges participants to write 50,000 words from November 1 until the deadline on November 30th. In others words, you write like a crazy person for thirty days, often ignoring family, friends, laundry, etc.

Of course, 50,000 words isn’t considered novel length, but it can be a great start to a very rough draft.

For those of you who’ve stuck with me all of these years, you know the first book I ever wrote was during the 2010 competition. I wrote 1667 words a day, sometimes more on the weekend. By November 27th, I had 50, 655 words. Was it hard? You bet. Was I cranky those twenty-seven days? Ask Derek.  But in the end I met the challenge and was awarded with this.


The working title was CAPTURE THE DREAM.

The working title was CAPTURE THE DREAM.

Although the characters never left my thoughts, the book sat on my hard drive virtually untouched until March of 2015. After months of work and a generous contest, that book turned into this, with a different title.


After a complete rewrite, my second book is currently with my editor. Whether it’s purchased by Harlequin is yet to be determined. It’s my 2012 NaNoWriMo book.

On November 1st, I will participate in my third competition. You won’t see much of me, until I meet the challenge.

 For those of you who think I’m crazy…maybe I am.🙂


Welcome, Kourtney Heinz

Highway-Thirteen-to-Manhattan-4-mod1-AmazonToday I’m thrilled to have award winning author Kourtney Heinz here to talk about the challenges of writing a sequel. I met Kourtney several years ago and since our meeting, her writing career has taken off. I’m so happy for her. She’s a hard worker and deserves great success.

The Five Unexpected Difficulties of Writing a Sequel

1) What did those curtain look like?

The curtains in Aunt Ines’s kitchen had a daffodil print in book 1 and in book 2 they were daffodil embroidered. The copyeditor missed it. I missed it until I was working on the revisions to the first book. I have a story bible that I checked to make sure those darn curtains had daffodils. I just neglected to remember they were print, not embroidered. And then I had to fix it in Highway Thirteen’s final ebook and paperback.

Being specific has its pitfalls. Those little details will trip you up. Make sure you check and double-check them.

2) Did I really say that in book 1?

Despite having a story bible, it’s really hard to remember everything in my worldbuilding. So much is inferred and not directly stated in the book. Sometimes I get tangled up in my worldbuilding, and I forget what I said in book 1. My editor had to remind me that Oliver called Caleb to help Kai during her previous mental breakdown.

But I had a little wiggle room because Oliver didn’t know Kai dreamwalked and talked to Caleb. So sometimes it’s what the character didn’t know the other character did that trips me up. That stuff that is only in my head and not recorded anywhere yet. Also, a character can be certain he was the reason something happened when he really wasn’t.
I have to remember all the things unsaid and make sure my next book doesn’t conflict in an way that cannot be explained away.

3) Being Goldilocks when it comes to recaps

In my second draft of book 2, my beta readers demanded more context and background. This meant recapping things that happened in book 1. But then how much recap is enough and where should it happen? It’s been 3 years since the first book came out. Do I assume readers have forgotten everything?

That was my next approach and my editor told me there was too much recapping and background.  First version had too little, second version had too much. She slashed a lot of it. Hopefully this version is just right.

Sometimes you have to underwrite, then overwrite, and finally come to a happy medium with recaps.

4) Being boxed in by book 1

When I wrote the first book, I could create anything and there was no worry that it might conflict with something else. It was all new. Now whenever I want to create a character arc, plot thread, or character action, I have to check back and make sure it doesn’t conflict with what I set up in the previous book.

Kai drinks wine in NYC and she drank rum in the hot tub in Butternut in book 1, but then in book 2 she mentions how hard liquor messes with her telepathy. When she’s in the city she doesn’t drink much—maybe 1 glass of wine because she can’t afford to lose control of her shield and her telepathy. But in Butternut, where her shield was under much less stress, she could drink a little hard liquor.

Make sure there is consistency in character’s actions or a clear explanation for why they are doing something they normally wouldn’t.

5) Fear of readers’ expectations

This led me to write a very timid first draft. I was so afraid that readers wouldn’t like what I was doing that I didn’t do much. My poor beta readers were terribly bored by the version they read.

They pushed me in the correct direction. My editor made sure there was oodles of conflict and that the pacing was right and every scene built upon the previous one.

Sometimes you have to write a bad draft to get to a good draft. Sometimes you have to let your fears dictate a terrible draft because then you realize that letting them go is the only way to get to a better book.



I also wanted to let your readers know, the first book in the series, The Six Train to Wisconsin, will be free on Amazon in October. I hate jumping into a series without reading book 1 first, so if they’d like to try the series out, they can read the first book free: http://www.amazon.com/Six-Train-Wisconsin-Book-ebook/dp/B00CJIXKG2

Back Cover Summary:

His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.

The sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin is a genre-defying tale of love and consequences. Once again, award-winning author Kourtney Heintz seamlessly weaves suspense and paranormal intrigue into a real-world setting, creating characters rich in emotional and psychological complexity.


Kourtney Heintz is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Six Train to Wisconsin (2013), the first book in The Six Train to Wisconsin series. She also writes bestselling young adult novels under the pseudonym K.C. Tansley. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

She has given writing workshops and author talks at libraries, museums, universities, high schools, conventions, wineries, non-profits organizations, and writing conferences. She has been featured in the Republican American of Waterbury, Connecticut; on WTNH’s CT Style; and on the radio show, Everything Internet.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amok at night, envisioning a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Author Links:





Buy Links:





More cheese, please.

Image courtesy of morguefile.com

Image courtesy of morguefile.com

I love cheese.

I eat it every day.

I eat it with my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Whether it’s yellow, white, sharp, mild, or hot, I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like. Surprisingly, my cholesterol levels are very good.

Growing up, one of my favorite comfort foods was a grilled cheese sandwich. After spending hours playing in the snow I’d come inside to a hot grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup waiting. Life couldn’t have been more perfect in my young mind.

The sandwich was perfection when the cheese oozed down the sides of the lightly buttered bread. But the real test was if the cheese stretched after that first bite.

While in elementary school, the cafeteria’s grilled cheese was never as good as my mothers. It had half the amount of cheese, so it lacked the stretch factor. You’ve got to have that, right?

Twenty plus years ago, while bed ridden with a ruptured disc in my back, my father, who’d recently retired, came to my house each day. For lunch he cooked his specialty, grilled cheese. Back then, that was all he knew how to cook so we ate it every day. He sat on my bed as we both ate our sandwiches and watched the O.J. Simpson trial. I’ll never forget that time we spent together, or his grilled cheese.

Today, I still love the sandwich, especially the way Derek makes them. It’s amazing how something as simple as two slices of bread and a ton of cheese can evoke such warm memories.

Do you have a favorite comfort food?


Swooning over John Cannon

Today I’m honored to spread the word about Our Justice, the third and final book in the John J. Cannon trilogy, written by the talented John Howell. Not only is John a great writer with a hilarious sense of humor, he’s just an all around great guy.

Introducing the third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy – Our Justice

Our Justice

Click to go to Amazon


The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs has figured out a way to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.

The action begins with John fearing for his life. Clearly, whoever is trying to get him has a mission to accomplish and the elimination of John is at the top of the to-do list. The quest to survive takes John and his love, Stephanie from the beaches of Port Aransas to West Virginia and finally to Matt Jacob’s corporate headquarters at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. There John finally understands what he needs to do to protect both he and Stephanie from further mayhem.

The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers? John, Matt or neither?

Our Justice is available on Amazon and KDP now in e-book format for preorder at $2.99 with shipments starting on September 23rd. The paper edition will be available on Amazon September 23rd at $14.99. Here is the link for pre-order of the e-book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LDFM9WM?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660


I see out of the corner of my eye that Ned is on the phone. Hopefully, he’s calling in reinforcements since it looks like the SUV is gaining on us. Just as the rear window of the Focus blows inward, he finishes the call. Hundreds of pieces of glass hit Ned and me. Luckily, it’s shatterproof stuff, so we’re mostly okay cut wise. Ned crouches down and fires three quick shots with his 9MM. In the mirror, the SUV swerves to the left and almost explodes after it rams a parked car. “Stop,” Ned yells.

I slam on the brakes, which nearly tosses Ned through the windshield. “For shit’s sake, I don’t have a seatbelt on, junior, so take it easy. Just stop and turn around.”

John Howell

Author BIO

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a daily blog. His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold. His second, His Revenge is available on Amazon and KDP Select.

John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of South Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets.

Other places.

Blog Fiction Favorites – http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Martin Sisters Publishing –Http://www.martinsisterspublishing.com




Tropical Storms, Turtles and Revisions

IMG_2108A much needed change of scenery was in order as I tackled my revisions for my second book.

Over the Labor Day holiday, Derek and I traveled to the beach. A tropical storm was in the forecast, but we decided to stay the course and go forward with our plans.

We were welcomed with picture perfect weather.


Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The next day was also beautiful, so we set out for a four mile walk.


Click to Enlarge Photos


During our walk we watched this turtle who was determined to get back out to sea. Many people were gathered around scratching their heads. This didn’t look like a sea turtle, especially with his claws.

Click to view video

That same evening, the sky changed and the tide turned.


Click to Enlarge Photos

Click to Enlarge Photos

Overnight, Hermine arrived and we awoke to this.

Click to view videos

Hermine moved out as quickly as he’d moved in. All in all, a relaxing and productive getaway.

IMG_2158                                                        All Photos © Jill Weatherholt

Has Mother Nature ever interrupted your vacation plans?