Read about THE ATOMIC CITY GIRLS, everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II


GENRE: Historical Fiction

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

AtomicCityPBThe girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.


Three randomly drawn readers will receive a digital copy of the book. Enter to win a copy of the book – a Rafflecopter giveaway:

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Janet Beard authorphoto1Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and currently, Columbus, Ohio, where she is teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.

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Revision Is a Process: How To Take the Frustration Out of Self-Editing by Catherine E. McLean


A first draft holds the possibility of what will be a great story. Revision turns that rough diamond into a spectacular gem worth a reader’s money and time.
Book Cover Revision is a Process
Writers are individuals but to be a producing writer means creating a system to revise and polish a work so the reader thoroughly enjoys the story. REVISION IS A PROCESS is a guidebook for writers and authors that shows how a simple 12-step process can be tailored to eliminate the most common and chronic maladies of writing genre fiction. This valuable guidebook contains secrets, tips, practical advice, how-to’s, and why-to’s for taking the frustration out of self-editing.


Readers, enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC:

Ten things most people don’t know about Catherine E. Mclean:

  • My parents owned a greenhouse that was an acre and two thirds under glass. They raised vine-ripened tomatoes for market. My joy and that of my three siblings was to use the cardboard tomato baskets to build “houses.” Of course, Dad insisted that when done playing, we stack every last basket. After all, tomorrow was picking day.
  • I have two black cats that are not actually coal black but a very dark seal brown. When the sun hits them, you can see their black tiger strips. Nodd is female and likes to nod off in my lap. Mr. B is male (he’s Nodd’s brother). He loves to be outdoors—hunting.
  • I’m a blue-ribbon winning amateur photographer. My favorite subject is nature (rocks and flowers). I showcase some of my pictures at my website
  • My husband is a retired mechanical engineer and he points out the logic flaws and science flaws in my stories. After all, readers are logical people—they will quit reading if the science or the magic or motives of characters don’t ring “true enough.”
  • I gave my daughter a love of reading and books. She is my beta reader and will tell me when I have “emotional whiplash” or “comma trauma.”
  • I had a conversation with William A. Sabin (God rest his soul) who edited the Gregg Reference Manual. That manual is a necessity for secretaries (which I was for many years).
  • I trained and rode a bay Morgan mare to become a Reserve National Champion in Competitive Trail Riding. Purchased as a yearling, she was to be my English Pleasure Horse (a show horse), but when I discovered distance riding, that changed. I and my husband bred, rode, trained, and showed Morgan sport and pleasure horses. I rode Hunt Seat, Saddleseat, Hunter Over Fences, Pleasure, Western, Sidesaddle, and drove in both pleasure classes and obstacle events. Being retired now, we no longer have horses, and I miss them.
  • I’ve sewn since the age of seven, was a 4-H’er who was runner-up to the Ohio State Fair twice, and I continued all my adult years being involved in 4-H. I retired after twenty years as a 4-H leader (teaching sewing, cooking, and photography). I still compete at the local fairs with my sewing (and I still bring home blue ribbons).
  • I sew costumes for Darq, the doll who represents the heroine Darq in my sci-fi adventure novel JEWELS OF THE SKY: I often say it was kismet that two weeks after the book launched, I found the doll on eBay. The premise is that she is visiting Earth as an ambassador from her homeworld and she stays with me (thus avoiding publicity and the paparazzi). Helping her stay incognito are the Men In Black (MIB). It’s been a lot of fun because Darq gets invited to great parties. For Halloween 2017, she’s going to a dude ranch (at an undisclosed location) and needs a “Prairie Dress” for the chuck wagon affair that includes square dancing. In the past, she’s been invited to visit a witch in England (and needed a steampunk outfit to fit into that society) and she went to Mexico to be interviewed by Father Dragon. Check out the costumes and outfits—Darq is a doll with a blog: .
  • I am a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). My interest is basically costuming. I sewed medieval costumes for my daughter and her doll, which won prizes at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. In 2015, I made a Lady of Sienna medieval gown for Darq (JEWELS OF THE SKY’s doll-avatar). Mind you, I don’t have patterns for any of these costumes. I work from artist’s sketches, and believe me, artists don’t show seam lines so it’s challenging to figure out what pattern pieces are needed. I also use tailoring patterns from old books on costumes through the ages.
  • Have I ever made myself a costume? Only one—an 1850’s replica of a sidesaddle coatdress. It is all one piece, buttons down the front, chain in the hem (keeps the wind from flipping the hem), lined, and made from wool suiting fabric that I ordered from a men’s tailoring establishment.

I’m curious. Of the ten unknown facts about me, what did you find was the most interesting?

Excerpt from Section 1, An Overview of Revision is a Process:

. . . revision is a process . A logical, straightforward process where you don’t try to find and fix everything at once. Instead, you break the monumental task into component parts and focus on only an item or two at a time.

Okay, so the reality is that creative people, especially writers, hate logic and straightforwardness. And it’s a fact that logic and creativity have always been at war with each other. After all, creativity gives a writer a high like no other. It’s the fun part of writing and storytelling.

On the other hand, revising, rewriting, and self-editing are linear, logical, objective—and not fun.

But necessary.

Ever so necessary if one intends to be commercially successful in the writing business.

Here’s something I’ve learned about writing and self-editing—a writer should find a middle ground. That means having the logical part of one’s mind work with the subconscious imagination (the creative self).

It’s about adopting a different view of self-editing—calling it a process—and diligently organizing that process into small steps that can easily be done. This gives a writer confidence that they have polished their story and increased its marketability.

I strongly believe, and have seen, that revision-as-a-process enables a writer to use both their left (logical) and right (creative) brain to become even more creative.

That’s because the writer not only tailors a one-of-a-kind process but they also develop their own revision master cheat sheets. As a result, the creative subconscious (the imagination) becomes aware of the pitfalls and glitches that must be checked for, and subsequently, little by little, the creative self dishes up better first drafts with far fewer errors.


Catherine E. McLean’s lighthearted, short stories have appeared in hard cover and online anthologies and magazines. Her books include JEWELS OF THE SKY, KARMA & MAYHEM, HEARTS AKILTER, and ADRADA TO ZOOL (a short story anthology). She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes lighthearted tales of phantasy realms and stardust worlds (fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal) with romance and adventure. She is also a writing instructor and workshop speaker. Her nonfiction book for writers is REVISION IS A PROCESS—HOW TO TAKE THE FRUSTRATION OUT OF SELF-EDITING.







Book Marketing 101

We writers are innocents in many ways, especially regarding the selling side of the publishing business. As long as we can stay in front of our computers, engaged in the dream world of our fictions, we don’t have to think of how these narratives will find their readers. Now that my novels Fling! and more recently Curva Peligrosa have been published, I’ve needed to make the adjustment. It hasn’t been easy.

Since I was born and raised in Canada, a high school drop out and a single mum when I left and moved to California, I wanted to do my book launch for Fling! in the land of my birth. My son, who had read my novel in manuscript form and was a great early promoter of the work, suggested I do my first reading at Christina Lake, B.C., where he now lives (my home is in the San Francisco Bay Area). He set up an event at the Living Arts Center and also contacted a nearby library that was interested in hosting me. He even talked to the manager of Pharmasave, a local version of Wal-Mart. She was willing to put my books on display and set aside time one day during my visit for an author-signing session.

All of this sounded exciting, but I felt I also needed to include Calgary in my plans, the town where I had grown up. Local girl/woman makes good as debut author. I thought the story might attract potential readers, and I hoped the local papers would interview me (they didn’t). Since one of the novel’s main characters is a feisty 90 year old, I booked readings at the Kerby Senior Center as well as a senior retirement home that caters to ambulatory residents. I also made arrangements for a reading at Page’s bookstore, an independent bookseller that has a good reputation in the city. In addition, CJSW, the University of Calgary radio station, invited me to join the program Suffragette City for an interview. Finally, I registered for the conference that was happening during the dates I would be in Calgary, “Where Words Collide,” hoping it would give me exposure to potential readers through a workshop I offered on “The Origins of Fiction” and a reading I gave there on the last night of the event.

Then I had to make sure these events received copies of my book. But in order to sell them in Canada, I had to apply for a business number and an import/export account. Once I accomplished that, I checked with the venues where I would be reading to see if I could have my publisher mail books so I could reduce the number I carried with me. All except Page’s Books were amenable. But what I hadn’t anticipated, and nor had they, was the import tax/duty they would have to pay upon receiving the books. In each case, this fee amounted to around $20. Multiplied by six, in addition to shipping charges that I had to pay, it was a costly venture. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be making any money on this tour. It would be mainly for exposure, experience, and vanity.

Not knowing what the demand might be for my novel, I also packed about 50 or more copies in our suitcases, almost destroying my husband’s back and ramping up our expenses because our luggage was overweight.

Was all of this effort and expense worth it? While I didn’t sell as many copies of Fling! as I’d hoped to, I did expose the novel to a wider world than the SF Bay Area. I also met a number of people that otherwise might not have attended a book reading/launch and gave them insight into one writer’s world.

I also learned a good deal from the tour. I will never again sign up for a writer’s conference unless I know what kind of books are being featured. “Where Words Collide” presented mainly genre books: young adult, romance, mystery, fantasy, sci fi, etc. Those who attended weren’t interested in my somewhat conventional literary/magical realism work. I wasted two days there that could have been more productive. It’s also difficult to make one’s book stand out in a sea of books no matter what the genre is. So I’m questioning the value of such events for promoting books in general.

Then there are the intangibles. The radio interview I did could have opened doors (and windows) I’ll never be aware of. People do talk about what they see, do, and hear during their days, and I can hope that some from the tour.

After I returned home, I researched extensively, and continue to do so, for pc-1207686_1920potential readers and reviewers for both of my novels. Reviews generate a buzz, especially if they are posted on major sites like Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. It’s essential, then, to gather as many as we can. They encourage potential readers to take a chance on our books based on other readers’ experience. And it’s more readers that we want, right?

I also found it useful to generate interviews on other writers’ blogs. I did this in multiple ways. First, both of my publishers, Pen-L Publishing and Regal House Publishing, have authors who are willing to work with me, doing blog exchanges as well as reviews. In addition, I found blogs that seemed to have good followings and suggested we exchange interviews or guest blog posts. This also generated some valuable connections.

In addition, I paid Women on Writing (WOW) to manage a blog tour for Fling! and Sage’s Blog Tours for Curva Peligrosa that included a few reviews. It was worth it to me to spend this money on marketing, though the “tours” weren’t as well managed as I’d hoped. I’m not sure that I connected with potential readers of my novel during the 12-day events. I was supposed to be available each day to respond to questions that could come from followers of these blogs. But, in reality, in most cases, I was the only one there, waiting for someone to ask me a question! Even the blogger was absent. The reviews that bloggers posted on their websites were the best part of this deal. After some prodding, most were posted on Amazon, etc.

Would I do it again? Not likely. I could probably do as well on my own by contacting potential bloggers and reviewers, but for those who don’t want to spend their time in that way, it might be useful. These tours have taught me the importance of researching the kind of blogs the tour guides contact. If the bloggers don’t feature your genre, then they are not going to be effective.

Surprisingly, I have found Goodreads to be the best source in two ways. First, I have done several giveaways. While it’s costly to mail the novels, especially if you don’t designate US only (as I didn’t on my first giveaway, opening it to Canada and the UK, thinking it would give me a bigger readership range), it’s worth the expense, a tax write off. A number of people listed the novel as one they wanted to read. And some of them will write a review. However, now that Goodreads is charging authors a hefty sum just to do a giveaway, it may not be a good choice.

Goodreads ad campaign also has been productive. The book title and description reaches many people over a long period. I’ve been running mine since early July 2015. So far I’ve only paid about $39.00 for my original $50 ad campaign, but I’ve reached innumerable potential readers. So in terms of pay off, the Goodreads ads seem to be a good investment.

The message here? Take the time to do your homework and find the many resources there actually are out there before you give away too much of your hard-earned money. It pays off in the end.

Another option? Though I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I also have done readings while spending a week at Sea Ranch, a coastal community in Mendocino about three hours from my home. The conventional wisdom is that readings are more productive in areas where we have family, friends, or acquaintances. That might be true in some instances, usually at bookstores. But there are exceptions.

I thought that while I was in the Sea Ranch area, I would try to book events so I could get a broader readership for my novel Fling! I first contacted the only bookstore in Gualala, a tiny town just a few miles from where we were renting a house. I was surprised at how enthusiastic the owner was about reserving a late Saturday afternoon slot during our week in the area. He told me that the venue has a healthy clientele of mostly regulars but also of those visiting the coast. Since there isn’t much entertainment locally, many residents are eager to attend something out of the ordinary. The owner also recommended that I contact the Point Arena library, a half hour drive further up the coast. And he put me in touch with Peggy, the host of one of the local radio stations so she could interview me.

I followed up and was delighted when Julia at the library signed me up for the Sunday afternoon at the library series. She was also eager to offer her usual visitors an inspiring talk and/or reading. I had planned to frame my discussion of Fling! with a talk on “The Magic in Magical Realism.” Again, Point Arena is another small town whose inhabitants are hungry for enriching programs.

Each of these venues did a great job of advertising its event with flyers, notices on their websites, and postings in the local papers. I happened to pick up the Coastal Observer when I was there, eager to read the local news, and was amazed to find a quarter page write up about myself, something I didn’t expect.

Bookstores usually are only worthwhile if you have a large following in an area and can generate traffic. Otherwise, the percentage they want per book doesn’t make them a viable option. Also, several bigger stores now charge authors for the honor of doing a reading in their facility. I just paid $100 for such an honor. But the Four-Eyed Frog Bookstore in Gualala doesn’t fit that profile. They sold all of the books (about twelve) that I left with them.

While I was at Sea Ranch, KGUA, the public radio station, did a 25-minute interview with me that featured my upcoming readings and allowed me to give extensive info on myself and my work. I later learned there is another station in Gualala, KTDE, a commercial one, that also would have interviewed me if I’d contacted them, which I will do in the future. In addition, I discovered that authors should submit some sample questions beforehand to the station so the interviewer has material to work with.

This experience helped me to broaden my horizon for doing readings and giving talks. Intimate rural towns can be great resources. They often are hungry for the kind of events that big city residents take for granted.

I also have put out feelers to book groups (I tried contacting book clubs through Meetup but was banished for scamming!), libraries, and senior residences/centers for readings or speaking opportunities. Some have gotten back to me and booked events. I’m still waiting for other responses.

And that seems to be the message I’m getting: Wait.

Each day I anxiously check my Amazon and Goodreads’ pages to see if anyone has posted a new review or rating. Then I look at Bookscan’s sales’ figures, which don’t seem to budge much in spite of all my efforts. It’s depressing!

I’m also waiting to hear back from potential local radio interviews.

I’m waiting for word from the film and foreign agents I’ve contacted.

While Fling! is now also an audiobook, I’m waiting to see if Curva Peligrosa will become one as well.

Patience seems to be the key here. I need to let go of my need for instant gratification and realize that the publishing scene has its own pace. It may speed up at times. It may slow down at other times. But it will be less discouraging if I think more in terms of years than a few months.



Brave New World!

Okay, I know I’m not the only one who can’t keep her hands off her cell phone and computer. When it isn’t convenient to have my laptop in hand, then I turn to my phone to check email, the weather, the latest news, and more. Thankfully, I don’t text or that would be another reason to keep it close.

Otherwise, I’m married to my computer, which is no surprise to my husband. Much of my world resides there, including the teaching I do for the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute—all of the interaction with my students and responses to their assignments that I do via voice recordings. Of course, the recordings have to be emailed to them. And then there is my own writing, my teaching files and apps, not to mention sorting through the many emails generated each day in my personal and professional lives.

android-604356_1920Have a question that I don’t want to take time to look up myself? Google it. Go to Delphi. See what the Internet gods and goddesses have to say. Need to make a reservation? Go online. Want a recipe and don’t feel like checking all my cookbooks for one? You’ve got it. Google is my god of choice. Need new shoes? Shop online.

What did I do before computers and cell phones dominated? It’s hard to remember, but clearly I spent more time in libraries and shopping at real stores, not these digital ones. I used my landline more frequently. I talked to friends on the phone instead of by email. Now it’s inconceivable to spend a day without accessing one of these devises, even though I meditate regularly. Meditation may help me stay in the moment, but it doesn’t cause me to drop my dependence on the technological world. If anything, it just makes me more focused on whatever I’m using at the time.

I don’t have any answers for how to avoid this brave new world. It’s impossible to disentangle myself from the web I’m now part of, and I don’t know what that means for my future self. Will I eventually be transformed into a droid?

Blind Poetry?

I recently read an article in the New York Times Magazine describing the author’s experience with blind contour drawing. The process involves looking at the subject and drawing its contours without looking at the paper. Instead of carefully rendered replicas, the drawer ends up with fascinating interpretations of what s/he is looking at. They may not resemble exactly the person or object, but they will exude personality and offer another dimension to what is being viewed.

background-3085631_1280This process fascinates me, but I realize I already have been doing something similar in certain poems I write that don’t portray external images as our eye perceives them. Instead—especially if I let myself enter a trance-like state—an inner eye takes over, and I’m surprised by the results. Of course, I’m not the only poet that practices blind poetry. Many of us do it without realizing the parallel with blind drawing, giving the reader a view that s/he otherwise would miss.

Here is and example from the recent issue of American Poetry Review:

In a poem by Elizabeth Robinson entitled “[Young man feeding pigeons as they rest on his hand and wrist],” the last two lines read “The arm motionless as feathers lift a sleeve. / Fine, white scratches on the wrist and hand.” I love the various ways these lines can be read. The arm can be viewed as being light as feathers. Or it could be that feathers actually lift a sleeve. And fine could be a comment on the previous line, or it could modify “white scratches.” It also could be a value judgment of the white scratches or a commentary on how the scratches appear. And there’s an unspoken sense that the pigeons from the title may actually have left scratches on the man’s wrist and hand. Lots of ambiguity and a fresh take on a common scene.

Do you have any examples of blind poetry!

Language’s Mysterious Relationship To Writers

5d9cf373-e31c-400e-9fe0-1655625ab9b2My husband and I got into a discussion of poetry and our different approaches to it. His training is in new criticism. Mine embraces more contemporary work, though I’m eclectic and like many different styles, including John Ashbery’s method of disjointed narrative. My husband recognizes I’m onto something that Melville was alluding to in Moby Dick—the gap between language and what it tries to depict…how language organizes and creates our way of seeing.

After this conversation, we looked at some poems I had written recently, and he was reading them differently than previously. This time he was able to grasp what I was doing. We talked of how our training can shut us down, put blinders on us. He said, “Joseph Brodsky believes language has a life outside of us and uses the writer.”

I agree. I think there’s truth to the statement “in the beginning was the word.” Language is absolutely mysterious in its relationship to humans and the things it touches.

I also see a relationship between impressionism, some kinds of abstract paintings, and the poetry I write. It tends to mainly suggest something. Give only enough information/detail to set the readers’ imaginations working. I don’t want everything spelled out. I want mystery in my poems (and my prose)—new worlds.

I’m reminded of this quote: “Mark Rothko, painting his stripes in Greece, was asked: ‘Why don’t you paint our temples.’ He replied: ‘Everything I paint is a temple.’” I’d like to think that everything I write is one.

There seems some evidence for the idea that we are changed by the things we create—actually shaped by them. Ralph Ellison shares it. He says the novels we write create us as much as we create them. How mysterious language is and its relationship to writers.

Freedom from Tyranny!

I’ve realized that it isn’t just writers who are tempted to turn themselves into fodder for the Internet. Non-writers also are tempted to give up their lives and be submerged by the Google glitz.

That’s where freedom comes in.

Freedom means many things to different people. For some, it conveys release from constraints. For others, it gives permission to not follow a particular religion or political ideology. Many are trying to free themselves from failed states. Still more want to be self-determining individuals that aren’t under anyone’s sway.

For me these days, freedom has more to do with technology overload and its tyranny. From the time I wake up until I go to sleep at night, different devices surround me. I go to my computer immediately to write my dreams in my journal. Then I check out email, visit the Times’ and Washington Post front pages to catch up with whatever important news I missed while sleeping, look at my Facebook page and scroll through messages, view my Google calendar to see what’s on my list for the day, get sidelined by hyperlinks that demand immediate attention, and so much

Throughout the day and evening, I’m frequently on my computer writing poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. I’m also constantly working on marketing tactics for my novels and poetry collection or sending out pieces for possible publication. When I’m in my car commuting or at the gym, I listen on my smart phone to audio books and frequently check my email and phone messages. In the kitchen, while I prepare dinner, I watch my favorite programs (tennis, baseball, the Antiques Roadshow, and the PBS Newshour, programs that I’ve pre-recorded).

The one thing I don’t do yet is walk around with ear buds plugged into my ears, so I have some freedom! But I also have freedom when I write from the wonderful free application of the same name that I’ve downloaded onto my computer. I start it when I begin my writing time, and it keeps me from being distracted by all of the things I’ve mentioned above, allowing me to focus on my work. I’m also considering turning it on when I’m NOT writing so I can wean myself from this hi-tech world and the behavior it encourages.

Before I could finish this blog post, I got sidetracked by the latest offering from Goldstar, an event discovery service, and am still browsing through its current offerings. There’s no question that technology offers us much, but as with anything in this world, there also is a downside. I’m aiming for more freedom. I hope you’ll join me!