‘Tis the Season

 The holiday season is upon us, and if you judge by department store decorations and TV commercials, it arrived before the last trick-or-treater came to your front door.  

With all the parties, family events, and planning that occupy Thanksgiving through New Year’s, time to write, or even think, is significantly reduced.  It’s been my practice to start a writing project in the summer, get it well underway, and then write as time allows the remainder of  the year.  So has been my plan this year. 

Butcher Road, my next murder mystery, is outlined and approaching 100 first-draft pages.  If I go heads down in January, I should be able to wrap it up by mid-2019.  In the meantime, I’m pecking away at the keyboard as Michael Bublé croons Let it Snow on our Amazon Echo and Claudia wraps presents for our grandchildren.  

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

— D. R. Shoultz 

P.S.  Please take a break and read A Christmas Found by clicking 
HERE!  It’s a short story that will warm your heart on a chilly night.

Writing is a Business: IWSG

It’s time for my November contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) blog hop. This month I varied from the recommended topic to discuss my recent marketing ventures.  Be sure to click on the #IWSG icon at the end of my post and check out the responses from dozens of interesting, experienced writers.

Being a self-published author is like running your own business. There’s a lot about writing books that I like, or else I wouldn’t do it.  But there are many activities I’m not that crazy about.

I like that I set my own schedule.  I don’t have a publisher or agent looking over my shoulder checking on the content and status of my next book.  Most of what I do is at my own pace.  Don’t get me wrong. If an agent or publisher would take me on, I’d be glad to crank out books on their schedule, but for now, I’m not real sure if this is Wednesday or Saturday, nor does it matter that much.

Time at my desk writing is what I prefer.  When I’m heads down, typing away, it can be exciting.  It’s not like work.  It’s more like discovery or invention.  I frequently ask myself if I’d write if no one read my work.  It’s a tough question, but most days the answer is yes. The creative process alone is its own reward.

I’ve mentioned before in blog posts that marketing is the part of self-publishing I struggle with the most.  The creativity required to write a novel is not the same as the creativity needed to market a book. Sure, there are some common elements, but selling me and my books is not something I find easy to do.

After finishing At the River’s Edge, I promised myself I would spend more time learning the “ins and outs” of social media marketing.  I’d had a website and Facebook and Twitter pages for many years, but I had never spent much time running ads.  I closely studied what others had done, trying to understand what to do and what not to do.  I targeted specific readers and ran test ads to see what caught their eyes.  I tweaked the ads as I learned.


I spent more money on ads than I had originally planned, many weeks in excess of my sales.  I woke up mornings checking my CPC (Cost per Click) on Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon Marketing Services.  I became obsessed with the daily sales tally on Kindle Direct Publishing.  After three months, I ended up selling many more copies of my new novel than any other over that period.  But I wasn’t making any more money than before, and I was spending less time writing.

I’m still marketing my books, but electing to run fewer ads and put my focus back on my writing.  I learned from the past three months.  I learned the part of the writing business I like best is writing.

Many thanks to Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman for hosting this month’s blog hop.  To follow nearly 200 writers participating in this week’s IWSG blog hop, click on the icon below.  You can also follow on twitter @TheIWSG  or #IWSG.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Click HERE to check out my latest novel, At the River’s Edge.



** Tablet image from Pixabay.com **

Writing Across Multiple Genres: AuthorToolBox

It’s time again for my contribution to this month’s #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop where dozens of experienced writers share their experiences.  I encourage you to check out their thoughts by clicking on the icon at the end of this post.  This month I ask the question: Can an author write across multiple genres and develop a following? 

My latest book, At the River’s Edge, is a murder mystery set current-day near my home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Prior to this novel, I’d written the Miles Stevens investigative suspense series. This three-book series is based on a CIA agent from a couple decades in the future sent back in time to stop global terrorism: Cyber One (cyber-attacks), Melting Sand (nuclear flare-up), and Gone Viral (viral contamination).  I’ve also written three short story collections of eclectic tales and two additional crime/suspense novels set a few years into the future: Better Late Than Ever and Corrupt Connection.

If there’s a common thread in all my novels, it’s suspense.  I attempt to build tension early in each novel and then dedicate the rest of the story to disclosing and resolving the conflict. I also include a male and female protagonist in each novel working as a team to thwart evil.

Collection 8

I’ve recently decided I prefer writing murder mysteries, and have already started my second, putting the Miles Stevens series temporarily “on hold.” But can an author write across genres and still build an identity and following with readers?

My short answer is probably not.

It’s tough enough for indie authors to develop a following when they focus on a single genre.  Most big-time authors narrow on a niche, and if they ever decide to divert course, they sometimes write under another name. Witness J.K. Rowling’s efforts to step away from YA/Fantasy as Robert Galbraith, crime novelist.

Admittedly, I’m no J.K. Rowling. My following numbers in the hundreds, not hundreds of thousands.  Nonetheless, my readers have expectations. And if I ever want to get to thousands of dedicated book buyers, I doubt I can do it writing in multiple genres.

So, where do I go from here?

My plan is to continue to market the Miles Stevens series.  I may even add to it if there’s continued interest, but my writing focus going forward will be on suspenseful mystery novels.  This is for several reasons:

  • At the River’s Edge has sold more copies in the first two months than any of my other titles.
  • I also believe mystery and suspense has a wider appeal to both men and women, whereas my Miles Stevens series leans more toward men.
  • And most of all, if I were to pick a genre in which to write, it would be mystery novels, and specifically murder mysteries.

Keep a lookout for Butcher Road, the next in what I hope to be a long line of murder mysteries.

To enjoy other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click HERE.  Thanks to Raimey Gallant for facilitating this year’s blog.  I look forward to 2019.   Happy blog hopping!Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

Butcher Road - 3D-Book-Template

Life Events – How They Impact Writing: IWSG

It’s time for my October contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The questions posed this month to IWSG writers are: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Be sure to click on the #IWSG icon at the end of my post and check out the responses from dozens of interesting and experienced writers.

I consider “major life events” to be things like births, deaths, illnesses, marriages, divorces, starting a new job, losing a job and other events of similar magnitude.  Given this definition, I have experienced only one major life event since I began writing novels nearly ten years ago. After being widowed years earlier, I met and married Claudia. This event had a profound effect on my writing and my life.

I’ve chronicled on this blog the role Claudia plays in my writing.  Without her personal encouragement and professional editing support, I would not have produced the quantity and quality of writing that I’ve been able to deliver.  We enjoy many things together: travel, friends, hiking, our dog Milo, and of course, our family, but writing is something we do on an ongoing basis and occupies a great amount of our time.  I’m not sure what would replace this time together if I ever decided to stop writing.  Therefore, I probably won’t.

Author and Editor - Copy (2)With regard to the second question, I can’t come up with a good example of where writing has helped me through something. I have a good routine and rhythm to my life these days, so there’s not much that I have to “get through.”  Writing is something I do because I enjoy it and find it challenging.

I do believe writing helps keep my mind sharp and continues to give me a feeling of accomplishment. Both are important at any age, but especially for someone of my generation.

Many thanks to  Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken for hosting this month’s blog hop.  To follow nearly 200 writers participating in this week’s IWSG blog hop, click on the icon below.  You can also follow on twitter @TheIWSG  or #IWSG.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Taking a Break

It’s hard to define what “taking a break” means when you’re a retired businessman- turned-writer, but that’s what I’ve done the past several weeks.  After wrapping up my recent novel, At the River’s Edge, and self-publishing it on August 15th, I’ve taken a break from writing.

I missed the September posts to the two monthly writers’ blog hops where I regularly participate, and I haven’t written a single word on my next murder mystery (working title Butchers Road).

What I have done is visited family and taken a New England/Canada cruise with my wife, Claudia, and two longtime friends.   It was the longest I’ve been away from writing and our dog, Milo, in years.  Milo acts as if I’ve never left, but I still haven’t gotten back into full writing mode, as yet.

Claudia and I were very impressed with the towns and scenery in Maine and Nova Scotia.  There were too many people on the cruise ship to our liking, but once ashore, we were able to relax and soak in the cool sea air, visit with friendly natives,  and hike the picturesque countryside.

I’ll get back into writing and return to my blog in October, but until then, here are a few snapshots of our trip and one of Milo begging me to get up from my desk.

IMG_0040   IMG_E0051





Quality Comes First: IWSG

It’s time for my September contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog. I decided to make a slight variation from this month’s IWSG question, What publishing route did you take and why? Instead I plan to discuss writing as a self-published author.

Be sure to click on the #IWSG icon at the end of my post and check out the responses from dozens of interesting writers.

There are those who believe the advent of self-publishing has given rise to the rampant publishing of books lacking the editing, substance, and quality that has traditionally come from “published” authors. While there may be examples where this is the case, my experience as a self-published author and my familiarity with other self-published authors convinces me this is not the norm.

If book sales are any indication of the quality produced by self-published authors, there are many examples of authors who have broken through the best-selling barrier without the aid of a big publishing company. Here is just one of many articles that makes this case:  https://publishdrive.com/self-publishing-success-stories/

Most self-published authors engage the skills of editors and beta-readers to hone their manuscripts. The complex and detailed process of producing a quality novel is not limited to published writers. I have one personal example that illustrates my point.


Uninvited Visions was my second book and my first and only attempt at a YA fantasy novel. It was about Midwest teens in the 1970s having unexplained premonitions of frightful events. After discovering they were not alone with these powers, they worked together in desperation to stop their deadly images from coming true and to rid themselves of their uninvited visions. Sounds like it might have possibilities, doesn’t it?

I spent over ten months writing the manuscript. Claudia, my wife and editor, tried her best to help make the story work. In the end, it just didn’t measure up to what I had planned, nor did it fit into the genre I had selected to write–suspense/crime novels. At over 300 pages, the book still sits on my laptop’s hard drive with only one proof copy ever printed. At times, I think about revisiting the book, but I have instead moved on to other novels.

While the self-publishing process may have few checks on the quality of the books produced, most writers going this route know that quality counts. Writing, publishing, and marketing your own books has many benefits over traditional publishing, but taking shortcuts on editing and settling on inferior results are not among them. It’s a lesson I spent nearly a year learning.

Many thanks to Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler for hosting this month’s blog hop.  To follow nearly 200 writers participating in this week’s IWSG blog hop, click on the icon below.  You can also follow on twitter @TheIWSG  or #IWSG.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

While you’re here, please check out my new release, At the River’s Edge The unsolved murder of Mayor Hank Richards and rumors of moonshine money buried in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains take center stage in this thriller.

Headsone in Creepy Cemetery with Bridge in background


Times Like This


It’s times like this past month that encourage me to continue writing. Leading up to and during the first book signing of At the River’s Edge, I met dozens of people with active interests in reading, writing, and my new book.

Best-seller status is the ultimate reward for an author, but there are many events that occur along the way to make writing fulfilling. One such event happened at a recent book signing.

Her name was Lisa and she came with her young son. She told me she’d been waiting a week to pick up a signed copy of my new novel. She’d recently read my first book, Corrupt Connection, which she’d checked out of the library. I usually bring a few copies of all my books to signings but don’t feature them. Seeing Lisa’s interest and enthusiasm, I had to offer her a signed copy of my first novel. She was overjoyed as she departed the library.

Several minutes later, Lisa returned with a small stuffed bear under her arm. “Would you take a picture with me and my friend?” she asked. I was a little perplexed as she took out her phone and pulled up several snapshots. The photos were of her and her bear with other writers, including the likes of Nora Roberts.

I proudly posed for the picture.

** Photo from Pixabay.com