Where I Have Been?


So… It’s been a while.

How have you been? Good, good.

Yeah, well, I’ve been… uh… not writing.


Honestly, I have no excuse. I think maybe I needed a break after writing two novels and I am now just getting back into the swing of things.

So let’s get this party… restarted

The first draft of Cowboys and Dragons Book 3: The Dragon Lords is currently being… well… drafted.

I am currently on Chapter 2 and hope to be finished by the end of 2018. Oh and also, here is a sneak peek at the cover art.

More to come…

– Anthony

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I’m in my hometown newspaper

Well… good news. I’m in my hometown’s newspaper, and it’s not in the obituary section.

Do you hear that banging noise? That would be the Italian half of me knocking on wood like a neurotic woodpecker riddled with OCD for even writing that sentence.

I was trying to figure out a way to link to the article on The Daily Record’s website to share, but unfortunately, I can’t find it on the website, and even if I could, I think you need a subscription to view it.

So as not to bury the lead: I have dyslexia, I write books, I’m fairly cool, so buy my books…please.

Here is a link to the full article.

I just wanted to thank Tami Mosser for meeting with me over Thanksgiving to make this happen.

– Anthony

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The Dragon Riders is now available!


At long last, The Dragon Riders (Cowboys and Dragons Book 2) is now available for purchase!

You can pick up a copy here:

So far everyone who has read an advanced copy of The Dragon Riders has assured me they think it’s even better than book 1, which is all an author can really hope for.

I hope you enjoy it too.

– Anthony

P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to leave a star rating or review for The Dragon Rustler, please do. It helps me a ton. You can do that by clicking here.

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Book Update – November 3rd, 2016

I was hoping to have Cowboys and Dragons Book 2: The Dragon Riders available for purchase by now, but I am having a heck of a time getting the final formatting approved through CreateSpace for printing. Something happened behind the scenes that has made the printing approval process infinitely more challenging. What took twenty-four hours for my first book, and the proof copy of book 2, has now turned into a month of back and forth with level two support. The only issue has to do with an image at the very beginning at the books. For whatever reason, CreateSpace’s requirement for an image with a full bleed (or an image with no border) has changed, but the process for approving the images is different than the guidelines on their site, or what support says it should be.

So, unfortunately, my update is that I’m frustrated.

But I’m not going to leave you empty handed. Here is a new image of the book covers for both Book 1 and Book 2. After designing the cover for book 2, I felt I needed to up my game for book 1, so I redesigned the cover to match. I think overall both covers look significantly better and are aligned to the overall style for the middle-grade fiction genre.


Sorry for the delay. I hope to have something up and available soon.

– Anthony

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Turn Your iOS Device into a Content Reader – Tools for Dyslexia Part 1


As an adult with dyslexia, I experience a kind of exhaustion after reading and writing for extended periods of time. But as an author, reading and writing are critical to my ongoing success. So I’ve been experimenting with different technologies in an attempt to increase my speed and decrease my overall fatigue.

There are great applications for dictation available like Dragon Naturally Speaking, but what about tools that help with reading? Do I need to spend a lot of money on applications and services that can assist me?

The answer is a resounding “NO.”

As a matter of fact, what I’m about to show you is absolutely free. Everything you need to turn your iPhone or iPad into a Text-to-Speech reading device is available directly out of the box.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to enable text-to-speech features on an Apple iOS device.

How To Activate Text-to-Speech:

  1. On your Apple iOS device (these are the same steps on an iPhone or iPad) select the “Settings” app

    select the Settings app
  2. Select “General”

    Select General
  3. Select “Accessibility”

    Select Accessibility
  4. Select “Speech.”

    Select Speech
  5. Activate both “Speak Selection” (A) and “Speak Screen” (B).

    Speech selections
    NOTE: For everyday use, these two are by far the best tools for a dyslexic. I’ll explain more in the below section on how to use the tools.
  6. Select “Voices” and choose the voice you can understand the best. I like “Alex”, but this is a personal preference.

    Select Voices 1 of 2
    Select Voices 2 of 2

    NOTE: If it’s not a default voice (i.e. Siri) you will need to download the voice first, so being connected to wifi is recommended.
  7. Next, select “Speaking Rate”. The slider adjusts the reading speed, with slower being toward the tortoise and faster being toward the hare. You can leave this at the default setting and adjust up as you become more accustomed to faster reading speeds. I like to keep mine set at a little faster than the default setting. Keep in mind that non-dyslexics read between 200 and 300 words per minute (wpm). The default rate for text-to-speech on an iOS device is 175 wpm. So it’s important to increase the text-to-speech speed over time to keep up with standard reading rates.

    select Speaking Rate

    OPTIONAL: If you would like to follow along visually as the text is read, select “Highlight Text.” I think this would be good for younger readers, but I find it distracting.

    Highlight Text
  8. Exit out of the “Settings” app and return to home screen.

How To Use Text-to-Speech:

  1. If you launch any application that has text; instant messages, emails, webpages, notes, etc… and you select some of the text by double-tapping on the screen, you will now see a “Speak” button has been added to the default menu above the highlighted words. By selecting “Speak” those words will now be read to you outloud.

    Speak Highlighted Text
  2. Additionally, if you go to any web page, note, news article, etc. and swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers it will bring up a new control panel and begins reading the entire page. From the control panel, you can adjust reading speed, pause the audio, go forward or back and stop the voice over completely.

    Speak Page 1 of 2

    Speak Page 2 of 2
    NOTE: if you tap the arrow facing left it collapses the control panel. This will happen after a couple of seconds regardless if you tap it or not. To bring it back, simply click the arrow (now facing to the right) and it will expand back to the full control panel. The “X” will close this panel completely.

How To Turn Any eBook Into An Audio Book:

In my opinion “VoiceOver” can be a double-edged sword. It’s hard to use, and can sometimes be more work than it’s worth. However, it’s the best way to have long documents and eBooks read to you.

Here are my steps for using VoiceOver without some of the hassle:

  1. Under the “Accessibility” section, select “VoiceOver.”
  2. step11

  3. DON’T turn this on yet. It makes it very hard to navigate with “VoiceOver” activated. (A)
  4. Select “Speak Rate” as before, and select the most comfortable listening speed. (B)
  5. Select “Voice” as before, choosing your desired preference for the style and gender of the voice that will read the text. (C)
  6. VoiceOver options

  7. Exit out of Settings and go back to home screen
  8. Select an eBook. (This can be on any e-reader, I use the Amazon Kindle app, but Apple’s iBook, Kobo, and Nook also work.
  9. Triple-click the home button. (For reference, the home button is the round button at the bottom front of the iPad or iPhone.

    NOTE: This is probably the most difficult step of the entire process. You will have to practice the Triple-click a couple of times in order to get a feel for the motion. Sometimes it will only register as a double-click and not work properly. Just keep on trying until you hear the computerized voice say, “VoiceOver On.”
  10. From now on, if you click on anything on the screen, the voice will read what is selected. This can be helpful, but I find it makes it very challenging and slow to navigate, so I only use this for what is called “Continuous Reading.”
  11. To activate “Continuous Reading” swipe down from the top of the screen with TWO fingers. This will then read everything on the screen and continue reading until you stop it, or until the book is complete.
  12. To stop “VoiceOver,” Triple-click the home button again.

    NOTE: You will know this is successfully turned off when the voice says, “VoiceOver Off.”

I’ve found these two essential functions within iOS very helpful in helping to eliminate the fatigue I usually experience with long periods of reading.

If you have any additional tips you would like to share, or would like to reach out with any comments or questions, please write me below.


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Book 2 Is Off To The Editor, So Why Am I Not More Excited?

Have I already mentioned how much I despise the editing phase of writing a book?

Really? I have?

Okay, I won’t go into a ten-thousand-word exposition on all the things I find frustrating—which would, most likely, result in most of you hitting that “unsubscribe” button.

And to be fair, it’s not every part of editing . . . It’s just really the first draft . . . and every subsequent second after I send the manuscript off to my editor, Christopher.

Why is this, you might ask?

Well, after completing the first draft, I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I just wrote a book for heaven’s sake. A masterpiece of thought, imagination, and prose. I am in an elite class of artists.

And then I read it . . .

Wait a minute. Did I actually write this incomprehensible piece of rubbish? Suddenly I’m not feeling like an artist at all—I’m nothing more than a wannabe, a hack, a charlatan, a . . . a . . . see, if I were a real writer, I would have thought of a fourth ingenious descriptor there.

So I do the only sensible thing open to me and search the internet for what other authors feel like after writing their first draft, and guess what I find? I’m not alone. Apparently this is a common occurrence, and that makes me feel slightly better. I close the browser, open up Scrivener, take a couple of deep breaths, and start back at chapter one.

Fast forward four revisions and two read-throughs later, and I am staring at what I would consider a Manuscript that is 99% complete. The next step would be to send it off to my editor, but I hesitate. Did I check everything? Are the names consistent? Did I catch every homonym? Every plural and possessive? Does the plot really make sense?

I am again racked with self-doubt. I don’t want to waste my editors time. I don’t want him to think less of me. The only sensible thing is to go through it a couple of more times performing searches for frequent errors.

Weeks pass, and before I know it, my April deadline has come and gone. It’s June 1st, and I still haven’t sent Christopher anything. I’m still hesitating—still wanting to go through the manuscript just one more time.

I have to believe this is also a common occurrence too. Ultimately, it’s all about the fragile, house-of-cards, ego of an author that’s to blame. When you do anything creative, be it art, music, writing, etc. you put yourself out there for the world to love or criticize. So much of who you are can be tied up in your work, that its reception directly links to your feelings of self-worth.

Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a unique feeling to artist types—you see this all the time at the workplace. But the biggest difference I see between the two is the length of time and individual effort spent as an independent artist, is vastly greater than that of a collaborative work environment. For instance, when I worked at IBM and Lenovo, I was always a part of a team, working on several projects at once. If one of those work-streams was less than satisfactory, you could still hang your hat on the others. But when you work on one project, for a year or years, independently, It’s all on you. Success or failure falls wholly upon your slumping, delicate, shoulders.

It’s these times in the creative process, when those very insecurities, are exposed. After the first draft, you are the principal critic of your work, and hopefully, you are indeed critical. I don’t think you are doing yourself, or your audience, any favors by believing what you write is the best thing ever.

The next critiquing hurdle—at least for me—is when you submit the manuscript to your editor. This is the first time an outside expert is assessing your writing, and that can be extremely nerve-racking.

I think the most challenging aspect of writing a book is not taking feedback personally, but using it as a building block to becoming better at your craft.

This, of course, is easier said than done.

Some suggestions I have found that have been somewhat helpful for me are:

1) Write something else: a blog, an outline of a new book, a short story, anything, before reading your first draft. I believe this helps me because I’m not solely focused on the story I just wrote as being the only creative thing in my life.

2) Keep reminding yourself that each time you write anything; you are getting better at your craft. I’ve heard the figure of one million words before you become completely competent as a writer. I’m not sure if there is any scientific justification for that number, but I like to keep it in mind as a target none-the-less.

3) It’s important to have the right tools to assist you as you proceed. Currently, I rely on several applications to improve upon my writing; Grammarly, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and a combination of Scrivener and Word. The process I use is a mix of dictation and keyboarding the story into Scrivener, then I bring each chapter into Grammarly, and finally pull it all together in Word to send off to my editor. This process helps me not only head off some recurring errors I make but also helps me identify a surprising amount of elements I’ve missed during editing.

So, if you’re like me and feeling unsure of yourself during these parts of editing, or just wondering what the heck has taken me so long to get to this point, I hope this post helps.

Ultimately, my goal is to write the most entertaining book I can. But I sure do hope Christopher gets back to me soon, because every second that passes is absolute mental torture.


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The Dragon Rustler On Sale For $0.99


To celebrate finishing the draft for Cowboys and Dragons Book 2: The Dragon Riders, I decided to run a week-long sale on the Kindle version of my first book, The Dragon Rustler.

As part of the KDP Select program, I am allowed to run one Kindle Countdown Deal per term. This one will run from Wednesday, February 24th through Monday, February 29th, and look something like this:

Feb 24th – $0.99
Feb 25th – $0.99
Feb 26th – $1.99
Feb 27th – $1.99
Feb 28th – $2.99
Feb 29th – $3.99

If you haven’t had a chance to read The Dragon Rustler yet, this is a good way to try it at little risk. But If you have, and really liked the story, this would also be a great opportunity to send it to someone you think would like it as a gift. (I wrote an article about how to give and eBook as a gift here)

And as a reminder, If you have already purchased the print version, you can download the Kindle version for free. Here are the steps to get your free copy:

Go to The Dragon Rustlers Kindle Page (Click Here).
kindle matchbook

1) You can verify here that the Kindle MatchBook price is showing as $0.00

2) Select “Buy now with 1-Click”. This will download a free copy of The Dragon Rustler to your Kindle devices or Kindle apps

As always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.


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First Draft For Book 2 Is Finished

C&D Book 2 - Preview Cover

The first draft of Cowboys and Dragons Book 2: The Dragon Riders is finished!

Hallelujah! Queue the music. It’s time to roll…

Oh, but if only it was that simple. The truth is, I have a ways to go before this book hits the shelves. Completing the first draft represents only part of the whole process of writing a finished novel. Now don’t get me wrong, actually writing the book is probably the greatest step forward, but I wouldn’t say it’s time to break out the champagne just yet.

So what’s next you might be asking? Excellent question, and I think the best way to answer that is to cover my process for writing. However, if that doesn’t really interest you, scroll down and look for the section: What’s Next?

Step 1: Outline
As much as an outline takes away some of the romanticism involved in writing a novel the truth is it keeps you focused and the story on point. Now keep in mind, I started writing this draft at the end of October, which in retrospect isn’t the best time to begin writing anything if you have kids. There’s a shocking amount of days off between the middle of October and the beginning of January. And if you’ve ever tried to do anything, and I need anything that requires any ounce of concentration with kids at the house, you know how difficult this could be. What an outline does is it allows me the flexibility to skip days, even weeks, and be able to pick up where I left off without having to reread everything that I’ve written already. The downside is that you have to have faith in your outline, because when you’re four months through the story and writing your last chapter, you’re really hoping everything makes sense. Because I’m writing a series, my outline consists of all five books plus back-story and other elements that take place beyond the narrative of the novels.

Step 2: Beats
For me this is where the story really starts to come together. Simply put, beats our paragraphs describing important events, dialogue, and plot points. This is where I start to pull together chapters and get a sense of the overall story. It’s easy to read through well-documented beats and see if the overall plot and character arcs are going to work. When you try to write several novels a year like I am, this step is critical for time management.

Step 3: First Draft
Now that the beats are fleshed out, it’s time to buckle down and write the story. There are almost as many thoughts on the right way to draft, as there are books on writing. While a lot of them encourage you to write continuously and if something changes; a character’s name, a location, a subplot, note that in the script and just keep on rolling, I can’t really write that way. I find that I’m too distracted by the fact that there are inaccuracies earlier in the story that I have to go back and correct them. However, if there is something I feel might need more explanation or I’m worried that a particular plot point isn’t set up well enough, I’ll write it in a notes section of the manuscript so at least it is out of my mind. For me, having a first draft that you can hand off to somebody to read is important. So I probably take a little more time here that I should.

Step 4: Revisions
What was once the bane of my existence, I’ve come to embrace as the difference between people who write as a hobby and people who write for a living. I’m loath to say that The Dragon Rustler took me over a year to revise. Yes, I said a year. But in my defense, it was the first novel I had written, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. The first time I went through the story I fought the process the entire way. However, by the time I’d gotten back the novel from my editor, I have found that I started to enjoy trying to make the story as good as it possibly could be. I could probably write twenty blog post just on revising alone. It is that important. But because I need to get back to work, I’ll keep this short. The first time I revise, I concentrate on the overall story. Does it make sense? Is there a build up to the climax? Does the main character grow? Is the antagonist’s motivation believable? When I’ve answered all these satisfactorily, I begin my next rounds of revisions. Yes, I said the next rounds of revisions; because every single time I have reread my story I find spelling and grammatical errors. So I really think it’s important to reread the novel multiple times in order to catch everything you can. Now with that said, you will not catch everything. But that’s okay, because we have the next steps.

Step 5: Alpha Readers
I delineate Alpha readers as a small group of trusted reviewers who will give you honest suggestions on plot, character, and overall story structure. Yes, they will also catch spelling and grammatical errors but I think it is a waste of their time to be your primary resource for that type of editing. At this step, you will really see if your story will work for an audience. If it doesn’t, back to step four.

Step 6: Professional Editing
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a professional editor work on your manuscript. There are a billion things you is an author will not be able to see. For me, it was one of the craziest things to have reviewed my manuscript no less than ten times, thinking it was pretty solid, and seeing the copious amounts of mistakes when it came back from my editor. While you might be tempted to have a friend or family member who is either a professional writer or has a writing background do this step, this could be a mistake. To be successful, you really need to have someone impartial read through, correct, and possibly suggest further areas of development, in order to have a solid finished product. Ideally, this editor is not only familiar with your genre, but also your target audience.

Step 7: More Revisions
Yes, you will have more revisions. If your editors in any good, they will find things you as an author completely missed. Suck it up, don’t take it personally, and make your story better.

Step 8: Beta Readers
Unlike Alpha readers, Beta readers should consist of your target audience. This is your last opportunity to find out if there are any issues with your story before you go through the trouble of publishing. Since I write stories targeted at the middle grade audience, I like to have both parents and children and both sexes provide me with feedback.

Step 9: Still More Revisions
Yep. You’re not done revising yet. You will definitely receive feedback from your beta readers on something that is confusing, unclear, or desired in the story. Oh, and they will also catch spelling and grammar errors too that everyone up to this point has missed.

Step 10: Publishing the Book
I’ve actually covered this quite a bit in my previous blog posts, so I won’t go into the details here. But guess what? As you go through this process you will find errors.

What’s Next?
So what will I be doing next? And how long will that take? To summarize, I’ll be heads down working on revisions for the next month. If you read through the steps you know that the first time I revised the book it took me a year. However, reading through what I’ve written so far, the quality of my writing has increased to the point where my first draft of The Dragon Riders is better off than where I was after several revisions of The Dragon Rustler.

My goal is still to have The Dragon Riders for sale in late spring. As I get further along in the process I’ll update this site with any adjustments to that timeline.

Thank you so much for your interest and support. If you have any additional questions about my writing process, please comment below.


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The Dragon Rustler Is For Sale At The Wooster Book Company

My dad just called me from sunny, snowy Wooster Ohio to let me know The Dragon Rustler is for sale, on the actual shelves, of The Wooster Book Company.

And I didn’t even have to beg ask them to sell it.


So if you’re in the area, venture on down to The Wooster Book Company and pick up a copy or two. To be honest, I have no idea how they ordered it, or if I’m even making any money off the deal, but it’s pretty darn cool to have a store in my home town sell my book.

Don’t forget, if you’ve already read The Dragon Rustler, please help me out a little more and rate the book on Amazon. Written reviews are best, but if you feel uncomfortable writing one, a star rating would be fantastic.

Thanks so much,


P.S. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted in a while, I was holding off until the first draft of Cowboys and Dragons Book 2: The Dragon Riders was complete. I have the habit—good or bad, you can decide—of being overly optimistic when it comes to the level of work and time most things take to complete. January came and went, and now we’re more that half way through February, and I still can’t say I’m done. I’m close. Very, very close. Like tomorrow or the next day close. And that’s not being optimistic… I think.

P.S.S. Thanks to Judge Miller for asking Wooster Book Company to carry the book. Which he was, and I do solemnly swear, not solicited by me to do so, and did it of his own volition.

P.S.S.S. Check out that sweet ride in the photo. It reminded me of the car I had in college, a Frankenstein’s monster of a vehicle, pieced together from five separate dodge Omnis and a large railroad tie #RIPMIRTHMOBILE.

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Holiday Sale: Get The Dragon Rustler for 60% off!


For a limited time, The Dragon Rustler will be on sale from December 24th through December 27th, for $1.99. If you are considering getting one more gift for someone on your Christmas list, or you know someone is getting a new eReader or tablet for Christmas, sending them a digital book is a great way to warm up their holidays.

Speaking of giving an eBook as a gift…
If you’ve ever wondered how to send a Kindle eBook as a gift, here is a link to a previous blog post on that very topic: How To Give A Digital Book As A Gift

And as a friendly reminder: If you’ve already purchased a paperback version of The Dragon Rustler, you can download the digital version for Free. All you have to do is go to the Kindle version of the book and download it.

Happy Holidays, and good reading!

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