Guest Post: Best and Worst Writing Advice I Received by Anita Dickason, Author of Sentinels of the Night

At Authors & Readers Book Corner, author Anita Dickason stops by to share the best and worse writing advice she received when starting her writing career.

Best: Narrator

My business is Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. In addition to publishing my books, I provide manuscript and cover design services to other authors.

My first client had been working on her manuscript for close to ten years. She always claimed she never expected it would be published. The process was a learning curve for both of us, and the friendship we built is one I will always treasure.

I was also in the middle of my manuscript for Sentinels of the Night. As I struggled with the plot, I thought I might hit that ten-year mark before my book would be finished.

During one of our many conversations, I mentioned the difficulty I was experiencing in the flow of the text in mine. My friend asked if I used the narrator function on my computer. I was aware of the option, but it never occurred to me to use it for my manuscript. She was so right. Hearing the text read aloud made it easy to spot the breaks in the continuity along with other mistakes. The narrator is now one of the tools I use to write a story as well as my first step in the editing phase.

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Worst: Outline

When I started writing, I joined a couple of writing groups. An award-winning author was the guest speaker for one of the meetings. During her presentation, she stressed the importance of an outline before starting the book.

I had written about twenty or so pages for Sentinels of the Night. I thought, okay if I need an outline, I’ll write one before I go any further. OMG, what a disaster. I got so hung up on trying to stay with the outline, that I lost track of my plot. Something would occur to me as I wrote a scene, but if it didn’t mesh, then I’d rewrite the outline. It seemed I was spending more time on the outline than on the book.

So now, I just write. Even though I have a general idea of the plot, how it develops depends on how I set up the characters. It’s not unusual to change midstream, and add another section or go in another direction based on a character’s actions. For me, the process is similar to an investigation. When connecting the dots, you never know where they will lead.

For more information on Sentinels of the Night and the second Tracker novel, Going Gone!, please see my website or the book trailers.

Anita Dickason’s knowledge and experience spans two careers. As a former Marketing Manager for AT&T and Project Manager for Electronic Data Systems, she worked in the computer industry. Electing to pursue a second career, Anita joined the Dallas Police Department where she served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, Dallas SWAT team/sniper, advanced accident investigator, and administrator for the department’s crash report system.

Her first book, JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy, is non-fiction and details the reconstruction of a 1966 vehicle accident near Midlothian, Texas that killed a key witness to the Kennedy assassination. The project opened the door to a new career, Author and Publisher. She owns Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC and provides manuscript and design services, helping other authors turn their manuscripts into a published book.

Her fictional works are suspense/thrillers and her plots are drawn from her extensive law enforcement knowledge and experience. Characters with unexpected skills, that extra edge for overcoming danger and adversity, have always intrigued her. Her infatuation with ancient myths and legends of Native American Indians, and Scottish and Irish folklore adds a touch of paranormal for the backdrop of her characters.

Sentinels of the Night:
Going Gone!:


Guest Post: “Career Transitions Don’t Have to Be Painful” by Vicki Morris, Author of InspiredWork

Here is a book excerpt from the transformational career guide InspiredWork: Create Work You Love in 8 Weeks by Vicki Morris, the Career Happiness Coach, founder of InspiredWork and author of the Inc. Best 100 Business book Happy Habits, and the InspiredWork Workbook.

How InspiredWork Can Help YOU

In my 25-year high-tech career, I hired 160 professionals and went through 16 career transitions. I know that career transitions are a normal part of a person’s career, and that they happen to everyone. They are so common, in fact, that in the U.S. alone, professionals – on average – go through approximately 11 career transitions by age 38. Even more eye opening is the fact that, as previously mentioned, millennials may go through about 20 jobs in their lifetime. Yet, despite the frequency of these job changes, I found that most people tend to become a bit less inspired with each and every job transition they encounter. They experience a great deal of pain, which tends to be transferred to their loved ones, as well.

My goal is to reverse the cycle. With InspiredWork, I want to take the frustrations and pain that typically come from switching careers and transform them into positive energy, which you can use to find a job that fulfills you and aligns with your values, or start your own company that helps you make a positive impact on the world.

Career transitions don’t have to be painful. Perhaps a job transition is just life’s way of telling us that it’s time for something better. And, as you’ll see, with each change, you become better equipped to handle the transition process.

Career transitions continue to happen. When I say that I’ve had 16Tcareer transitions, please note that I count both full-time jobs and full-time consulting projects as career transitions. I recommend that you count them, too, for several reasons: First, transitions after full-time consulting projects can take just as long as traditional career transitions and they can feel just as bad, too. Second, a full-time consulting project could be in your best interest versus a full-time job, so I like to think of these projects as viable career choices. Third, you can connect with high-quality people and learn just as much at a full-time consulting job as you would in a permanent job, so it would certainly make sense to include your consulting contacts and accomplishments on your resume, CV, and LinkedIn profile. Fourth, I’ve learned that in today’s knowledge economy, the successful management of your career comes down to managing projects – whether they are labeled as jobs or consulting projects. In fact, more and more people find themselves in what is described as “on-demand economy” or “gig economy”. And demand for this way of working and consuming is profound. Is it good or bad for workers? The real question is, “Are you equipped to deal with this disruptive change in the workplace?” So, it is wise to adopt a project-oriented mentality when you assess your long-term career.

Finally, I was able to realize that although career transitions happen, they don’t need to be painful. In fact, I realized that career transitions could be embraced as positive opportunities to find or create work through which you can learn, share your unique talents, and be happier overall. Even if you’re making the decision to move forward as an entrepreneur, the experiences you’ve collected in a number of different positions will only help in launching a successful career.

The key is not just to find another job. The key is to find or create a job that moves you—a job that inspires you and brings you closer to the vision you have for your life! There is more to work than just paying the bills and you can find – or even create – a job or business that’s both lucrative and fulfilling.

In the InspiredWork book, I’ve included only the most useful and practical information and exercises, all of which worked well for me. It also includes the most heart-centered wisdom I have gleaned as a spiritual practitioner. I have endeavored to combine all of this information into a practical, step-by-step job search guide, which can be used now or at any point in the future if job loss should strike. By writing this book, I hope to turn my personal job loss pain into fuel and to help a new generation of young professionals avoid unnecessary pain and delays to find or create more soul-inspired work.

There are things I’ve learned in going through so many different career transitions that I want to share with you – so you will know them ahead of time and be better prepared when career transitions become necessary (either because a company isn’t performing well or because it’s time for you to find more inspiring opportunities).

One of my most valuable learnings was the realization that I could cope by taking a heart-centered approach to finding a job. I could systemize the approach, and utilize it to my advantage. In doing so, I’d be able to get through each new transition and bypass a great deal of pain and delays.

I’ve also learned that other people experienced career transitions just like I did. There’s a great deal of comfort that comes with knowing that you’re not alone in any given situation. So, there is a need for people to find a heart-centered approach to the job transition or startup process. You’ll find that this pragmatic approach is really helpful and taking the time to master this holistic career change skill will make your life easier and less worrisome. It will help you find your best possible job or create a company that you’re proud of, so you can be true to yourself in your role. It will also aid in providing you with peace of mind so you’ll know you’ll be able to bounce back and find another job in the future, should you ever need to.

How Loss Can Become a Blessing

I’ve experienced so many losses and setbacks in life. Amazingly, each time, things actually wound up working out for the best. For example, when I went through the most devastating job loss of my life in 1999, I really wanted to move out of California and relocate to Atlanta to find a job near my brother and parents. A wonderful recruiter found me a VP of Product Marketing opening at a CRM software company that was headquartered in Atlanta. It was an ideal job opportunity, and it would also enable me to live near my family.

Yet, the interview with my potential new boss, the CEO, went very badly. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I ended up staying in California and getting a different job instead. Then, I met my husband a few months later. Meanwhile, the Atlanta CRM company went under because it couldn’t compete with So, not getting the job that I thought I wanted so badly actually turned out to be a huge blessing in many ways.

This type of phenomenon happens all the time – I personally experience it so frequently that I now embrace these types of outcomes as Divine Will. Now, I actively try to make choices that are based on Divine Will, instead of worrying so much about how one certain experience will or won’t work out for me – I am able to accept the circumstances Divine Will gives to me, and I have actually learned to welcome alternate paths with open arms.

How this Information Can Help You – and How It Helped Me

I love the InspiredWork System because it helps professionals turn the entire job transition process into an adventure. Even if you’ve gone through it before, you can revamp the experience by transforming it, reconnecting with Source and setting a new, more heart-centered course. As a result, you’ll co-create your own work, through which you’ll find happiness and fulfillment every day.

Vicki Morris is the Career Happiness Coach, founder of InspiredWork and author of the transformational career guides InspiredWork: Create Work You Love in 8 Weeks and the InspiredWork Workbook as well as the Inc. Best 100 Business book Happy Habits. Vicki offers 25 years of experience as a high tech business leader, entrepreneur, and career happiness mentor. Vicki launched InspiredWork to help professionals create their own inspired work so they can be happy at work and love their life.

Dr. Wale Ajao shares his inspiration for the illustration in Adunni Dares to Dream

“Adunni Dares to Dream” is a story about a young girl who grew up poor in the village in a time when expectations were different for girls than from boys. Girls were (and in many places still are) expected to help in the home or on the farm and learn to become a mother and homemaker someday. They simply were not a priority when it came to formal education. It was rare for girls to develop a determination to break those gender barriers, even more so for a girl in a poor family. This is what makes Adunni’s journey very compelling.

This is my first time illustrating a book for this age range so, naturally, I assumed the book would have to be colorful, clear/clean/crisp, and easy for a child to digest what’s going on.

In hindsight, I may have been wrong but that was the summary of my strategy.

I harked back to my college days when I was in charge of the art department in our student fellowship. We used to make a lot of posters using cardboard cutouts. I’d make a sketch of the illustration and then figure out what colors of cardboard we would use, and then cut them accordingly.

Using Adobe Illustrator to digitally make the basic shapes really brings back those memories. Each illustration was to look as if it was made out of cardboard cutouts but I couldn’t resist adding a little bit of realism (a shadow here, a gradient there, and a bevel here) which I believe gives it a unique look even if that strict cardboard look is missing (meh…maybe on my next book).

Again, the idea was to use simple shapes with fine gradient colors and a hint of caricature here and there. I hoped the real kicker would be the use of patterns. Nigerian attire is very rich with patterns and instead of highly detailed backgrounds, we have patterns. Some of the patterns in the attires are based on real cloth patterns. If you look at the photo of young adult Adunni, you will see that the pattern on her dress was applied to the illustration of Adunni. I hope this blends well with the touching story Taiwo wrote and the decision to include some of the original language.

Overall it’s been an eye-opening collaborative experience all the way. And we are proud to announce the birth of this book which is our first-born baby as it were. Like a real baby, it takes a village to raise it and this book has been no exception.

We hope you love it…er…her, and she grows into the phenomenon that the inspiration for her truly is. We’ve seen that phenomenal inspiration in action and we hope you do to.

Talk About It Thursday: My First Book Launch by Leslie R. Weeks



While preparing this blog caption I remembered back, to when I was a child.  I remembered when my first story came into fruition.  Although I didn’t have any siblings, I kept myself busy by playing with my array of dolls, making my dolls clothes and writing short stories.  I enjoyed writing, because I had to use my imagination. Since I was an only child I had a lot of time to think and analyze things. I put a lot of thought into my writing.  Even so, after writing and reading my short stories, I would either fold the papers and stick them in my desk drawer, or toss them in the garbage.  I never shared them with anyone.

As an adult, I continue to use my imagination while writing. It’s relaxing for me to write and act out each character’s emotions.

About three years ago, I wrote an inspirational novel entitled, Behind My Smile, about three long time girlfriends.  I thought long and hard about how much I wanted to inspire my readers. I wanted to give someone hope about a hopeless situation.  I wanted to let my readers know that they were not alone facing challenging issues. 

The Journey to get published- One day a lady and I were casually talking about things we like to do. I mentioned that I had a 500 page manuscript that I had a desire to get in book form, and published. She informed me that she knew a book publisher. That was a streak of hope going in the right direction. The news excited me. We exchanged contact information and the next day I contacted the publisher. Fortunately, the publisher lived in the same city I lived in. Shortly after, we set up a meeting with the editor.  It was an exciting experience for me to go through the publishing process.  I felt very much involved during the process.  I described how I wanted my book cover to look.  The publisher was able to locate a picture that was very close to my description and perfect for my cover. I proof read my final copy about three times.  The process took about three months to complete, which included getting the book registered with Amazon and Kindle.   When I finally received that long awaited phone call from the publisher that my books had arrived, I was so excited.  The next day, I held my book in my hand. I was so proud. I was excited to see my name on the cover, and my words on the inside of the book.

About a month later, I had my first book signing.  My publisher was kind enough to suggest a nice location in the area to have my book signing. The room was beautifully decorated, and light food and drinks were served. Family, friends and church members attended.  I felt very special when my girlfriend of twenty years and her husband, traveled from Georgia to celebrate with me. I read a few excerpts from my book and offered a Q&A after.

I feel so good when I tell readers about my book. I get a lot of admiration about being an author. People feel that writing a book is a big accomplishment and they are always eager to have me sign my book for them.

I encourage anyone who feels the motivation to write a story to just do it!

Blessings to your future endeavors!

 Leslie R. Weeks has been a regular writer for company newsletters and was chosen to write a movie critique column. She has written several published honeymoon excursion articles and has also written book critique articles for a Christian-based magazine.

Though born and raised in New York, Weeks currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and children. Her favorite pastimes include traveling and baking from scratch. She gives all honor and praise to the God of the Bible. Follow Leslies on Twitter @LeeLeeJTM