Guest Post, Donna Ballman

Today our guest post is by a nonfiction book. Her name is Donna Ballman and she wrote a guide that many writers would probably find useful. Also, it has quite the witty title!

The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers

By Donna Ballman

Everything you need to inspire your writing, help your characters navigate the legal system, and get your story right. When your fiction or non-fiction calls for a character to sue someone or be sued and survive the ordeal, this book should be number one on your docket.

Winner of the Florida Writers Association’s 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards.

Award-Winning Finalist in the Business: Reference category of the “Best Books 2010” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News

With foreword by Alex Ferrer, TV’s Judge Alex. Featuring comments and writing tips from bestseller Brad Meltzer and other lawyers.


Maybe you have a novel, story, screenplay, or other writing project that has a character involved with the court system. Or you’re a journalist writing a story about a court case. (Some law students and new lawyers have said they found it useful too, but we can’t vouch for its exam-worthiness).

When you write, sometimes you don’t know where your mind will take you. Maybe there’s a character in your head but you haven’t decided what to do with them. Or you have a plot that’s stuck. The law is a great device for writers. It can add an obstacle, a sexy twist, or a fun character to your story. If you start thinking about the law when you write, it can be used to enhance your story, flesh out your characters, get you unstuck, or even inspire you.

The law can also accidentally drift into your plot, and laypeople who read your books, watch your shows, or read your articles will learn what they know about the justice system from you. Everything your characters touch during their day has something to do with the law. They wake up. Their alarm clock went through customs and is regulated. Or was it made with hazardous materials that make your character sick. They drive to work in a car that doesn’t explode when hit from behind because of civil lawyers. Or are they caught up in a conspiracy to cover up the defect? They go to work and, because of employment laws, have to be paid wages and overtime, can’t be subjected to discrimination, can’t be retaliated against because they objected to illegal activity. Or is conflict in the workplace your character’s central problem? When they get a divorce, your characters have to do it through the civil justice system. The terms of that divorce affect their daily lives. If a character dies, their will has to go through probate. Does the family inherit or are they left destitute?

Whether or not your character’s world is just or it all goes horribly wrong is up to you as the writer.

Most lawyers can’t read or watch stories about law because the factual errors are too frustrating. Gross misunderstanding of how the justice system works can take away from even the best plot. There are over 1.1 million lawyers in the United States, so alienating them with mistakes that are easily corrected can affect your sales and ratings.

The purpose of The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom is to touch on some of the highlights, to give you a starting point for your research or just trigger an idea for your story. This book is for every writer who doesn’t have a law degree, and even for those lawyer/writers who are writing outside their area of practice.


Buy it at Better World Books.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble.

Available on in traditional and Kindle format.

Available on in traditional and Kindle format.


Read an excerpt from The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom.


Like The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom on Facebook.

Find out more about using the law in your writing by following Donna’s blog, The Write Report.

Listen to Donna Ballman talk about the latest writing and publishing news and tips on using the law in publishing with literary agent Peter Cox on Radio Litopia’s The Debriefer.

You can stay up to date with the latest writing and publishing headlines by following Donna on Twitter @WriterDonna.


If you like The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom, don’t forget to write a review on Amazon, in your blog or on Litopia.


Travel The Ages book review.

Florida Bar Journal book review.


Thank you, Donna Ballman, for sharing your book!



guest post: C.L. Talmadge

Today we have C.L. Talmadge, author of the Green Stone of Healing Series. What is the series about, you ask? Well, below is a description of The Vision—Green Stone of Healing® Book One from the author herself.

“A vanished past roars back to life in the Green Stone of Healing® series, which chronicles what happens when politics, passion, and piety collide in the lost island nation of Azgard.

This hidden history is really herstory. Four generations of strong-willed female characters are at the epicenter of the power struggles of their country. So are their loves.

The Temple of Kronos has far-reaching authority. Its priests preach the superiority of the island’s dominant Toltecs and forbid sexual contact with the subservient Turanians. Infractions of their edicts risk severe consequences.

The stated reasons for such laws are lies. The Temple fears half breeds’ legendary paranormal abilities. The priests lost these gifts and are trying desperately to reclaim them to maintain their control.

One of the most powerful Toltec lords falls for a Turanian woman, defying this cruel social order. She refuses to wed him, but from their secret liaison is born a half-breed, a daughter named Helen Andros.
Thirty-one years later, Helen’s full parentage becomes public, igniting a political firestorm outlined in The Vision, the series’ first book. This revelation shakes the foundations of power. The Temple’s leader orders Helen’s death. His subordinate plots to use her to create more half-breeds in a quest for absolute power.

The latter bloc eventually assumes control of the Temple. The consequences are dire. The Temple and its supporters splinter into groups that fight each other and prey on the vulnerable. Armed goons wave holy writ as justification for violence and further repression.

Taught by the otherworldly Mist-Weavers to use the gem’s occult properties of healing and protection, Helen and her descendants offer a loving, inclusive alternative to theocrats whose lust for total dominion destroys them and nearly the rest of the world.

In the darkest hours, the heroines find love to sustain them….”

This novel is available at any online bookseller or by order through physical bookstores.

Title: The Vision—Green Stone of Healing® Book One
ISBN: 978-0-9800537-3-9 (paperback)

Thank you to C.L. for sharing her book/series!!

what is this? naughty video game?

My brother has been on the Facebook, talking up storm about a super naughty wii game, and it amused me so much that I decided to put it on the blog. Ubisoft cooked up this gem.

The game is called “We Dare”. Ooh la la. Party time! And what do we dare to do? We dare to spank eachother and take our clothes off and do unsanitary things with the wii remote. Oh my to the eight power!

According to brother dearest, Ubisoft has canceled the release and attempted to block the trailer from US browsers. Last time I checked, we didn’t live in China.

You’re freaky, Ubisoft. Never deny your true pervy self.

You would probably make a fortune.

Of course, maybe that was the point – to build buzz for the game. Video game development is mucho expensive. Why would they let the project get to this point and then abandon it? I wouldn’t be surprised if this hit the shelf in the near future. I smell shenanigans.

Related note: I’ll never look at the wii remote the same way again.

Hey, want some free reading? Check out the fiction freebie page on this very blog!
There you shall find links to two free ebooks on Smashwords and novel excerpts on Scribd.

Other places to find me:

Author Erin O’Riordan

Today we have Erin O’Riordan and some information about her book, I Made Out With a Teenage Communist!

High school junior Miller Markowitz has a new English teacher: her grandfather, World War II vet Steve Markowitz. Steve is there for Miller through her struggles with her insecurities and first love. As he fights his own private war with cancer, Steve teaches Miller about life and literature. Bosnian classmate Miroslav Vankovic teaches her about compassion, and to her surprise, may turn out to be more than a friend.


“Miroslav Vankovic is from Sarajevo, Bosnia. This is his third year in the United States, although you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. When I first met Miroslav, I wanted him to have an accent. I wanted him to sound like Bela Lugosi, to have a deep and deeply foreign voice, to mispronounce words and use odd phrases in a charming Eastern European way. But nope. Miroslav speaks the same bland, unaccented Midwestern English as the rest of us. There is nothing exotic about tall, thin-limbed Miroslav, with his straight dark hair, long, narrow nose, and lovely brown doe-eyes. I don’t know why it is, but I’ve always thought that brown was the most beautiful color in the world. The deep, dark pools that are Miroslav’s eyes are beautiful to me.”

The novel is currently available on Amazon.
Here is a link.

Thank you to Erin for sharing her book!

She can also be found on her blog –

Dreaming Disaster and Some Visual Aids

I have an open field behind my house, well, two of them actually. The arrangement goes back yard-field (not mine)-country road-field. The expanse is relaxing during the day.

But sometimes, at night, my subconscious sees that open space as vulnerability. Since moving into the house almost eight years ago, I’ve had a lot of dreams about various disasters happening in that field.

I’ve dreamed about tornados coming from that direction several times. They never actually hit the house, but I see them out there. They look like photographs of tornados I’ve seen, some big, some small. Sometimes they’re black.

Once, there was a tsunami. Like the tornados, it never hit the house. The wave just sort of hung there in midair, water rippling, but it never came down.

Last night in my dream, there was a plane crash. I didn’t hear it happen. I dreamed that I looked out in the morning and it was just there – a very big gray sea plane (cargo?), still mostly intact. I ran to get my camera to take a picture, which is something I would totally do if I were awake and that happened.

When I returned, the plane had turned into a different model – a smaller red and white plane, and as I reached the window, it tilted and fell into a crack in the earth that hadn’t been there moments before.

What does it all mean? I’m pretty sure it means I’m on the news websites entirely too much.

This evening we have an actual, real life storm moving in. I took some pictures of the clouds. I liked how the sky was beautiful and blue in one direction and dark and ominous on the other. Here are a couple of shots for your viewing enjoyment. You can see rain falling in the distance if you look closely.

Yes. I take pictures of pretty much anything.

Tomorrow we have guest post! Authoress, Erin O’Riordan will be here with some information about her novel, I Made Out with a Teenage Communist! and an excerpt. WOO!

Hey, want some free reading? Check out the fiction freebie page on this very blog!
There you shall find links to two free ebooks on Smashwords and novel excerpts on Scribd.

Other places to find me:

laziness and reading

Yeah, I didn’t really do that much in the way of writing this weekend. I spent most of my time either hanging out with the children, playing video games, and hanging out on the Twitter.

I did read some more of On Writing Horror. I know I’ve complained on the blog a couple of times about it, but it really is a good book. I don’t love the entirety but there are some really good parts.

Like Chapter 8, by Jack Ketchum, in which he delves into writing technique for scary parts and the importance of rythm. That was very good.

There was also an interview with a guy named Harlan Ellison (IRobot). I like that part of the book mostly because he seemed sort of angry. Let us quote the first line of his first interview question response.

“My feeling about contemporary horror writing is that it suffers from the same malaise that is suffocating most art forms in our time: wide-spread and deep-seated illiteracy on the part of the body politic and a lack of historical memory.”

The body politic? Who says that?

I bet Mary Sunshine really gets going after a couple of drinks. I would invite him to a party just to watch.

On Writing Horror is educational and useful, but I think it could use some major updates. For example, more focus on writing techniques instead of multiple lessons in the old ways of publishing. Nowadays for most writers, that system is just one big, repeatedly slamming door.

I opted out before I even gave traditional publishing a real go. Life is short. I have books to write. Query letters and story pitching to people who probably wouldn’t give me the time of day is a waste. If they ever want me, they know where to find me. I’m not exactly hiding.

I’m off task. Back to On Writing Horror.

Other useful parts included some examples of what these industry leaders have deemed good horror (I now have a reading list) and some genre history. That was good stuff.

Is the book worth the purchase/read? Yes. However, one should remember that we are all unique. Just because a career path worked out for Stephen King doesn’t mean it will work for me or whoever might read this or anyone else. Carrie was published in 1974. The world of publishing is a very different place.

Hey, want some free reading? Check out the fiction freebie page on this very blog!
There you shall find links to two free ebooks on Smashwords and novel excerpts on Scribd.

Other places to find me:

movie: The Other Guys

The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, is a comedy about a couple of cops who don’t function very well as partners.

Allen (Ferrell) is a nerdy, accountant guy who gets teased by other cops at the police station. They see him as a weenie who doesn’t do “real” police work.

Terry is frustrated with the fact that Allen is his partner. He also yearns for a more exciting career. He is very vocal and whiney and not very smooth with the ladies.

The partners learn to get along better as they investigate the kidnapping of a billionaire. However, that doesn’t stop them from arguing a whole heck of a lot on the way. The banter is often childish, but it’s more strangely hilarious than annoying.

The Other Guys isn’t the most intellectual movie in the world but it is very funny. A-

Hey, want some free reading? Check out the fiction freebie page on this very blog!
There you shall find links to two free ebooks on Smashwords and novel excerpts on Scribd.

Other places to find me: