About Steve Hooley

Steve Hooley is the author of seven short stories published in four anthologies, a Vella serial fiction, and is currently working on the Mad River Magic series – a fantasy adventure series for advanced middle-grade to adults. More details available at: https://stevehooleywriter.com/mad-river-magic/

Reader Friday: What made you decide to become a writer?

John Grisham, before going to college and law school, becoming an attorney, and beginning to write, had several occupations. As a teenager, he worked at a plant nursery, watering bushes. He was soon promoted to the fence crew. Later, he began working as a plumber’s assistant, then found work on a highway paving crew. When a gun fight broke out among the workers, he sought safety in a restroom, where he remained until the police had cleared the scene. He hitchhiked home, and began thinking seriously about college. His next job was in retail, as a sales clerk in a department store men’s underwear section.

What occupations did you have before you became a writer, and what made you decide to become a writer?

Reader Friday: Reader-Writer Connections

The question up for grabs today is directed at you as an author. Last week, Steve asked a question of us as readers: how do we connect with writers? What’s our go-to platforms to find new favorite authors with whom we can adventure?

This week, we’ll reverse poles and come at it from the opposite direction.

How do we as writers connect with new readers/followers?

Today, we will discuss questions that are dear to my heart as a relatively new author. I have published four books of my own, plus I was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I have two more books in the hopper. But those numbers are small—not insignificant by any means—but still small compared to most of you.

One of the authorish tasks I have the most difficulty with is reaching out to new/more readers and followers. I have a website where I publish a monthly blog, and I send out a monthly “newsletter.” I try to not market my books too heavily, but to include content about life in general in 2023, and sometimes what I’m curious about. I also try to include shout-out references/links to other authors, editors, and cover designers.

I do attend events, but mostly local as I am not much of a traveler. I like to say, Sure, I’d like to see XYZ location, but can’t I just be beamed over there?

So, over to you, TKZers! Steve and I are hoping to hear your tips/tricks/ideas—different methods you use to bring new readers/followers into your fold.

Wow us with your ideas, what has worked for you, and maybe what has not worked for you.

How do you attract new readers/followers?

What are some methods you’ve used to market yourself, not necessarily your latest book?

Do you ever conduct a survey of your current readers/subscribers to your blog or website to find out what content they’d like to see? What kind of response do you get?

Is there something you’ve tried in the past that has completely bombed? Do tell.

If you had to choose only one approach to connect with new readers/followers, the one that consistently produces results, what would it be?

Happy Friday, and thanks for playing the Connections Game with us today!










Deb Gorman lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes stories of redemption and reconciliation. Her next book, No Tomorrowsis due to be released this fall. You can connect with her at her website: debggorman.com

Friday Reader-Writer Connections


August is “Reader-Writer Connections” month here at TKZ.

Recently I invited readers of my newsletter to send me ideas for topics of discussion in future blogs. Deb Gorman suggested examining how writers succeed at connecting with readers. We began discussing the topic, and decided to look at the topic from both the perspective of the writer and the reader. Eventually we divided each perspective into (a) making the initial connection, and (b) maintaining a connection. Thus, we have four topics, one for each Friday in August.

Deb will be co-hosting these discussions. She’ll be asking the questions of the writers. I’ll be asking the readers. So, put your writer/reader hats on and prepare to give us some good advice from your experience.

Today we’ll look at #1, the Reader’s Perspective for finding a writer they want to follow.

And the questions:

As a reader

  1. What about a writer captures your attention or interest enough to make you begin following that writer’s blog/newsletter or social media or other content?
  2. What social media platform or site do you use to find new writers to follow?
  3. What specifically attracts you enough to try a new writer?
  4. Anything that is a big turn-off?


Deb Gorman lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes stories of redemption and reconciliation. Her next book, No Tomorrows, is due to be released this fall. You can connect with her at her website: debggorman.com

Reader Friday – Secret Reading Places and Unique Reading Habits

Many surveys of reading habits have been done here at TKZ on Reader Fridays. I couldn’t find any on unusual reading habits, so I thought that might be a good topic for today.

Many people read on busses, subways, trains, and ferries. Children climb into tree houses or just a branch on a tree. People read on boats and in the park. But, in what unusual or unique places have you read or observed others reading? Or what unique locations have you given your characters to read in?

Do you practice, or have you observed, unusual activities while reading? Or have you given a character the unique ability to read while doing something other than sitting quietly. Please tell us.

While you search your memory’s database, here are a few I’ve seen or practiced:

Growing up, in my early years, Reader’s Digest and other magazines resided on the top of the toilet tank. I thought that was normal. It wasn’t until years later that I realized it may have had something to do with my mother growing up in a home without indoor plumbing and with an outhouse “out back.” If you were going to use the pages from “Monkey Wards” for toilet paper, you may as well read them first.

During those early years, I also checked out books from our small-town library, climbed up into the branches of a tree in front of our house, and read while people walked by on the sidewalk below. Somehow, it was more fun to go unnoticed.

In my college years I visited relatives in the Virginia mountains. Many of them had gardens, and more than a few guarded their gardens. Apparently, groundhogs could mow down a row of lettuce very quickly. Sunny days were spent on the back porch, in a rocking chair, overlooking the garden, and holding a gun while reading a book.

Early in my training, I spent many nights in the hospital. I found that the ward clerks who really took their reading seriously requested the graveyard shift where there was less paperwork and more time to read. And, the paperwork definitely had lower priority than the reading.

Now it’s your turn.

  • What bizarre unusual “unique” reading habits have you seen in others or given to your characters?
  • What “special” reading habits do you practice?
  • Do you have a secret place to hide from the world so you can read uninterrupted?

Reader Friday: TGIF and Humor

With so much angst, strife, and division in our world today, we need to be reminded that we still have much to be thankful for, and that laughter continues to be good medicine. Thank goodness it’s Friday!

My life is currently crowded, probably my manic side pushing to take charge, and by the end of the day I don’t feel like reading nonfiction and studying. I want to turn off my brain and be entertained. The book I’m reading now is Lawrence Block’s The Burglar on the Prowl. I love the Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery series, and particularly Block’s use of humor.

Since we’re discussing humor today, I looked for previous articles from the archives. JSB had a great article On Using Humor in Fiction (December 2020). There are many others posts worth reviewing. Search the archives under “humor” and you’ll be surprised. Another recent article – Do I Need to Use a Dragon? – Humor  is the beginning of a series of blogs on the topic. And in “Seven Reason to Use Humor in Your Fiction” (November 2016)  Writer’s Digest discusses using humor in serious fiction.

But, today, let’s approach humor from the reader’s perspective. Here are the questions:

  • What authors do you enjoy because of their use of humor?
  • How do they incorporate humor into their writing?
  • Is there a particular genre where you enjoy the use of humor the most?
  • What books or authors would you recommend to the rest of us because of the author’s use of humor?

Reader Friday: Page Turners

Welcome to Reader Friday. Thank you to Steve Hooley for inviting me to guest post. Let’s get to it.

Do you remember reading under the covers? I do. Or, maybe you still do . . .

Usually, it was because I couldn’t put the book down. Aha! Enter the topic for today—something about which I still have much to learn.

There have been many discussions in these halls regarding the importance of scene endings and getting the reader to turn the page . . . and to keep turning pages.

Today, I thought we could have a little fun by sharing our favorite-of-all-time scene endings—as readers. You might have to dig into your memory a bit. That’s okay, we’ll wait.

I’ll start the scenes rolling. Mine just happens to be from Damage Control, by our own John Gilstrap, the fourth in his Jonathan Grave series if you don’t count the prequel. This excerpt is not only the end of the scene, but the end of the book . . . which made me immediately start the next in the series. Double whammy, John!

The man Munro saw was dressed all in black, and his face was covered by a black mask.

“I hear you’ve been looking for me,” Jonathan said. He smiled at the sight of the spreading stain in Munro’s trousers. “Well, here I am.”

I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a killer scene ending.

Over to you, Killzoners. What’s your favorite-of-all-time scene ending?




Deb Gorman, owner of Debo Publishing, lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Alan, and their very smart German Shepherd, Hoka. Together they have seven children, 24ish grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren scattered about the country.




Believing that one of the most foundational bedrocks of humanity—family relationships—is under attack, she writes redemptive stories of families in crisis.


Reader Friday: Location, location, location



Location, location, location


Setting, setting, setting


You’ve heard the #1 rule for property value in real estate; “Location, location, location,” meaning that identical houses will have different values depending on their location.

Let’s extrapolate the concept to writing and look at setting. Setting includes not only location (geography), but also includes era (history) and situation. For example, the Mississippi River in Missouri during the 1840s, where two boys escape parental supervision and explore the river and any other trouble they can find.

Setting can be exciting and fresh, and can help make a book successful. Likewise, an overused setting can be boring and work against the success of the book.

To continue the triplet format, let’s discuss Setting, setting, and setting:

  1. What setting for a book is your all-time favorite? (yours or any book you’ve read.)
  2. What is your favorite setting to park yourself to read? (reality or a dream or wish)
  3. What setting have you never seen used in any books, but would like to see in a book, or even use it yourself in a story?

Amazon Printing Cost Increase

Amazon Printing Cost Increase

If you have print books on Amazon.com, you have probably already received an email explaining that printing costs are going up on June 20th at 12:00 AM UTC (June 19th at 8:00 PM EDT). I received the email May 23rd.

The letter explains that, depending on the current price of your books, and if you do nothing, your royalties will either decrease or could become zero.

The choices of action include:

  • Running a one-time bulk list price update on all of your live paperback or hardcover list prices to increase your prices so they will continue to earn the same royalty
  • Visit the price tab for each of your live print books and make changes individually

Here is a link to frequently asked questions with printing cost tables at the bottom of the list of questions:

FAQs and Printing Cost Tables

Printing cost = “fixed cost” plus (“per page cost” x “page count”)

In the Amazon.com market (the U.S.):

From my reading of the tables it appears that for a paperback that is no larger than 6”x9”, has 110 – 828 pages, and black ink, the only price increase is the fixed cost (going from $0.85 to $1.00 per book), with the per page cost remaining the same. So, basically a $0.15 increase in printing cost.

I chose to use the one-time bulk list price update. It didn’t show me what the new prices would be immediately. That could take “several weeks,” they said. My thought was that I could look at prices individually after the update had taken effect. Thirty minutes later, I got an email with the updated prices. All my paperbacks were priced low. The increase was $0.25 for each of them, so apparently there was a $0.19 increase for printing costs and a $0.06 increase to keep the royalty the same. I’m not sure I understand that.

For comparison with IngramSpark printing costs, I used a 6”x9” paperback with black ink, cream paper, and 300 pages. IngramSpark’s cost was $5.48. Amazon cost was $4.60.

I would add the following to choices of action:

  • Order any supply of books you will need for in-person events in the near future before the cost goes up.
  • Consider using the coming increase in costs in your marketing, encouraging readers to buy before the prices goes up.

Okay, for discussion today, let’s share our knowledge and advice.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you have any questions you would like to post for the discussion today?
  • What additional information would be helpful in making a decision on new prices?
  • What advice would you give?
  • What do you plan to do?

The Scent of a Story

The Olfactory Nerve and Mood

We are instructed to use all five senses when writing descriptions. I must admit I often forget to use the sense of smell.

We smell with the olfactory nerve, the first cranial nerve. Cranial nerves are paired nerves that connect to the back or bottom of the brain, exit the cranium (skull and facial bones), and help us taste, smell, hear, feel sensations, and move our facial muscles and tongue. The olfactory nerve is also involved in autonomic function (automatic function) – affecting salivation, gastrointestinal function, appetite, nausea, interest or lack of interest, and sexual arousal.

Much of our sense of taste is actually from smell and the olfactory nerve.

The olfactory nerve endings are in the upper nasal cavity, near the opening to the frontal sinuses. The nerves connect to the bottom of the frontal lobe. And, because the olfactory nerve tract is connected to the limbic system, it affects emotions and memory, and thus mood.

That’s why a smell can quickly set off a memory or mood, and use of smell/scent in our descriptions may help to establish mood in our stories, ex. smell of our favorite meal, our old baseball mitt from Little League, corsage flower from prom, the scent of a tree that bloomed in our backyard, or the scent of our favorite cologne/perfume, etc.

Thus, olfactory nerve function—smell/scent—may help establish emotion and mood in our stories. But, how exactly does that happen? The bottom line is that we don’t really know. Here are a couple paragraphs from an article in GoodTherapy in 2019.

“The brain makes new neurons from stem cells in the hippocampus (part of the limbic system), suggesting the hippocampus and the feelings and memories it supports can change with new experiences…

“The limbic system is dynamic, changing with input from a person’s environment. Experience changes this important brain region, and that may help explain why people’s psychological and physiological experiences change over time…”

Though it may be fuzzy logic we’re using here (fuzzy can be good in fiction), let’s train our backsides, each time we sit in our writing chairs, to send our brains a memo to spray some smells/scents into our descriptions and plot.


  • What examples have your read or written with smell/scent as source of mood?
  • What is your favorite scent/smell? What smell do you hate?
  • What smells/scents (in your opinion) are most powerful for creating mood?
  • Bonus points: What are the two most powerful smells on Mackinac Island?