The Flying Nun, Oprah, and Me – by John Riddle

The Flying Nun, Oprah, and Me – by John Riddle

When I was 17 and a few months away from graduating HS in 1970, our family lived in public housing projects in Chester, PA. While watching an episode of “The Flying Nun” one night, I was intrigued by the closing credits that were dedicated to one of the writers who had passed away. Right then and there I prayed, and asked God if he wouldn’t mind making me a writer one day.

Moments later, I felt inspired to write my own episode. Using an old Royal Typewriter (with a few bent keys), I created eight pages of what I thought was “great material.” However, when I showed it to my English teacher at the Catholic HS I was attending, he told me it was “the worst piece of crap” (he used a different word) that he had ever read and that I should consider a career as a ditch digger.”

Right then and there I vowed that, one day, I would see my name on multiple covers of books and that I would travel the country, inspiring and teaching other people to follow their dream of writing. A few months later I enlisted in the Navy.

Fast forward through seven years of collecting rejection slips and I finally sold my first magazine article! I had arrived!!! With no college degree, but lots of clips, I could not get a job as a “real writer” so I drifted from being a payroll clerk at the Dupont Company (seven years) to a few part time jobs after I left there to pursue my writing dream.

A few years later, I found myself working as a Development Director in charge of fundraising and public relations at a local nonprofit agency. It was the best of both worlds, allowing me to use my gift of creative communication to write grant and fundraising letters, and to create special events. For example, I tried to set the Guinness Book of World Records by having the largest number of people dance the twist with Chubby Checker!

After seven years at one agency, I took another Development Director job at an agency closer to my home. I raised a boatload of money for them in the first 15 months or so and they rewarded me by laying me off.

As I sat home, licking my wounds, wondering where I was going to find another full-time job, etc., I remember watching the Oprah show one afternoon. She was going through the phase of the show where she would have self-help experts come on and tell people, “If you want it, make it happen, etc.”

I finally had my “light bulb moment!”

Why was I wasting my time looking for yet another full-time job when, by this time, I had tons of clips (The Washington Post, among others)? Thankfully, the Internet was still in the early stages and I started reaching out to editors online.

As of this date, I have written and sold 34 books to traditional publishers, and have worked as a ghostwriter on numerous projects. My byline has appeared in major publications all across the U.S., and I have written articles for over 200 Websites.

And I’m not done yet…


John Riddle is a freelance writer, author, and ghostwriter from Bear, Delaware. His byline has appeared in major newspapers, magazines, websites and trade journals all across the country. He is the author of 34 books, including a few health and medical titles, and has worked as a ghostwriter on numerous projects. John is also the Founder of I Love To Write Day, a grassroots campaign he launched in 2002 to have people of all ages practice writing every November 15. Last year over 25,000 schools all across the United States held special I Love To Write Day events and activities. He is a frequent speaker at both Christian and secular writing conferences, and recently appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. You can obtain a quote for John’s ghostwriting services here:

Have a Freelance Success Story to share? We pay $40 on acceptance, non-exclusive electronic rights only. Success stories run around 300 words but we're very flexible. Our guidelines are here:

>>>Read More Success Stories<<<

Get 10% off "Query Letters That Worked" when you use the code below at checkout!


It's A Dirty Job...Writing Porn For Fun And Profit! Includes Paying Markets!

Fact is, writing porn is fun! It's also one of the easier markets to crack and make money at while you're still honing your skills. "It's A Dirty Job..." is one of the only resources that can teach you everything you need to know to create your stories and target your markets.

Read more here:

It's a Dirty Job

Recently Answered Questions:

Q –


I took on a large project and the client paid me up front. The man has been nothing but mean, rude, and disrespectful. I have put many hours into the project but I just can’t continue to work with him. I don’t think he deserves a full refund but I’m willing to part with a portion of the money just to get him out of my life. What would you do in this situation?


A –

Been there!! While it would be nice if everybody in the world was…nice, the fact is there are a LOT of jerks out there! You can do an outstanding job, and remain helpful and pleasant, and even finish a project early and jerks will still find a reason to complain. And, they can get downright abusive! In my opinion, these people are narcissists, have a few screws loose, and need to be on meds. He paid you to write. He did not pay you to be the victim of his childish behavior.

On our website, we have a statement that says, “If you are a jerk, you’d be better served by one of our competitors. We don’t work with jerks. We prefer to work with professional individuals…who have manners.” It’s an excellent filtering tool! Authors who are jerks get extremely offended by that statement. Nice authors think it’s hilarious!

I was at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago and the check-in window had a sign that said, “Verbally or physically abusing our employees is not permitted. If your behavior violates our policy, you will be removed from the premises and law enforcement will be called.”

Now, I totally get calling the police when somebody assaults someone else. I imagine that don’t do that for people who verbally abuse their employees. Long, long ago, people had manners, and remembered to use them. Some people just aren’t like that anymore. If you’ve ever watched any “Karen” videos on YouTube, you’ll know what kind of people I’m talking about.

We worked with an author to publish his three books. He was extremely sweet. Sadly, he passed a few months ago. I was recently contacted by his son. I checked the author’s contract. His wife was his beneficiary. I contacted her and she said it was okay for me to communicate about the books and author account with her son. When I was changing the contact information in the author’s account, I discovered he had a negative balance of a few dollars. The son said he would take care of it. We had sent a final notice to the author weeks prior, but hadn’t heard back from him. I kept the books active as I knew the author was elderly. The son saw the final notice email, and sternly told me not to send any more final notices. That was odd.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was going through our accounts again, and discovered the son had never paid the fee. I assumed he never would at that point so I terminated the books, and sent a termination notice. The son responded quickly, made personal insults about my character, and threatened legal action. I gave him my email address, and told him to have his attorney contact me. I added that I would give the attorney access to the author account, where he could spend several hours reading all of the emails we exchanged with the author over the years. Hey, if the son wants to pay a lawyer $300/hour rather than paying a few dollars, that’s fine with me.

The son finally paid the small fee (it was less than $20) and I sent him his father’s production files. Haven’t heard back from him again, nor from his lawyer.

There was no reason whatsoever for his son to react the way he did. And, his father’s books are no longer on the market because I refuse to work with jerks. That apple definitely fell far from the tree!

My advice to you is to calculate what percentage of the project you have completed, and refund your jerk client the rest. Explain in a professional manner that you can no longer work with someone who is being unprofessional. Tell him he’s welcome to hire a different writer to finish the project. Maybe, when working with the next writer, he’ll remember his manners. He’s going to react one of two ways. He’s either going to blow a gasket or he’s going to apologize, and beg you to continue. His behavior is highly unlikely to change so I recommend firmly telling him no.



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles

Q –

Authors Press contacted me about adding my book to its network for a fee of $800. It has good and bad reviews, but a good BBB rating.

Would you consider my book in your list of published books?

A –

The only thing a company needs to do to have a good rating on is to respond to every review and complaint. They can copy and paste the exact same words over and over again into the response box on and it’s still considered a response. Ignore the A+ rating and, instead, read all of the complaints about them.

Also, please see:
COMPLAINTS about Authors Press AND Westwood Books Publishing

That’s an investigative piece I did and you won’t believe what I found.

You wrote: “Would you consider my book in your list of published books?”

It looks like your book is already published. On BookLocker and WritersWeekly, we can only feature books we have published. I’m sorry.



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles

A reader sent this link to me last week from Fortune Magazine:

Local libraries are struggling as book publishers charge three times as much for digital books as physical ones—and they don’t even get to keep them

As with many things online and in the news now, headlines do not always accurately represent the article written underneath. The article provides lots of confusing numbers (if you’re not familiar with how the ebook/library process works), accuses publishers of charging libraries way more for ebooks than everybody else, and more.

Something didn’t smell quite right when I first started reading.

Then, I did the math.

The article states:
“Like many libraries, West Haven has been grappling with the soaring costs of e-books and audiobooks. The digital titles often come with a price tag that’s far higher than what consumers pay. While one hardcover copy of Cook’s latest novel costs the library $18, it costs $55 to lease a digital copy – a price that can’t be haggled with publishers.

“And for that, the e-book expires after a limited time, usually after one or two years, or after 26 check outs, whichever comes first.”

Gosh, that sure makes the publishers look greedy, doesn’t it? But, whip out your calculator, and dig in like I did.

If they pay $55 for 26 copies of the ebook, that means they’re only paying $2.11 per copy. That is more than fair! This article seems to imply that libraries should only have to buy one copy, and then be able to loan it to as many people as they want. I do have a problem with that because I don’t necessarily trust the software or security offered by some libraries. What’s to stop someone from sending a copy of that ebook to others? Furthermore, giving libraries the ability to share one copy of an ebook with as many people as they want, in perpetuity, is not fair to publishers or authors.

And this part:

“While e-books purchased by consumers can last into perpetuity, libraries need to renew their leased e-material.

Right! That’s because, when a consumer buys an ebook, it’s for that one consumer. It’s not for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people to read!

When a library orders a print copy of a book, they can only loan that book to one person at a time. If there is high demand, that library is likely to purchase multiple copies. Sure, they can loan that book out for years but, as with all books, demand will decrease over time and the book will eventually be sold at a library sale, or discarded. The publisher and author have earned a fair royalty for the sale of each copy of the print book purchased by that library.

With ebooks, the royalties are FAR smaller. While an author might earn a few dollars for the sale of each copy of his/her print book, they might only earn a few cents for the ebook. So, how is it fair if a library can loan out an ebook to as many people as it wants (including multiple people at one time) after only buying the license for one copy?

Furthermore, the article states:

“Librarians in several states have been pushing for legislation to rein in the costs and restrictions on electronic material…”

That legislation would conflict with copyright law. The United States is a capitalist, market economy country. Business owners should be able to charge whatever they want for a product, and to put security measures into place to prevent the theft of intellectual property.

If the information in this article is correct, that means some libraries are trying to get a lot of something for almost nothing AND that they want to the government to pass legislation so they can get what they want. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

Oh, and this gem from the article:

“Imagine if a playground was built at a school with tax dollars, only to be taken down after two years of use,” librarian Colleen Bailie said at a recent public hearing.

A playground costs THOUSANDS of dollars! Not $2.11! What a RIDICULOUS statement!!!

And this one as well:

But Julie Holden, assistant library director for the Cranston Public Library in Rhode Island, said, “Taxpayers who fund our public libraries deserve better. Way better,” she said.

Actually, Julie, AUTHORS deserve better. When you start stripping authors of their royalties for “the greater good,” authors will stop writing good books. Then, you’ll only be able to offer “taxpayers” old good books, or crappy new ones. Oh, and I don’t see anything in your quote where you’ve offered to give up some of YOUR income for the greater good.

And, here is the smartest quote in the article!

“They (libraries) do have a funding problem, but the answer is not to take it out of the pockets of authors and destroy the rights of creators and pass unconstitutional legislation,” said Shelley Husband, senior vice president of government affairs at the Association of American Publishers, noting how more people than ever can access e-material that might otherwise have been purchased from booksellers.



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles

Fall 2023 24 Hour Short Story Contest

Q –

Dear Ms. Angela,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with my grandson regarding my nonpayment of my books (by Infinity Publishing). Growing up in Mississippi, I called Infinity Publishing a lot of times trying to get my money owed to me, but they never sent it. Each time I called they’d say someone will call you and we’ll send your money owed to you, but they never did. Can you please send me the Infinity Publishing and Fast Pencil address? Thank you in advance for doing so. My books are on the web, and I don’t receive any money from any of these online publishers. How can I get my books deleted from the websites?


A –

We started warning authors about Infinity Publishing (later merged with Fast Pencil) as far back as 2017. We published another warning in 2020. After years of authors complaining about non-payment of royalties and more, Infinity Publishing/Fast Pencil finally decided to stop publishing books in late 2023. I’m sure all of the complaints posted about them online over the years contributed to their demise. HOWEVER, they are still doing business (a different type) under the name Opyrus.

Paying authors’ royalties isn’t that hard. When the customer, distributor, or retailer pays you, you put that money into a specific bank account to hold those funds. You then collect monthly reports from each payer, credit your authors’ accounts, and send them their payments. At BookLocker, we pay by the fifth business day of the month. It’s such an easy process that we often pay our authors early. For example, this month, we paid our authors’ royalties on the second business day of the month. Again, it is not a difficult process!

If, however, a publisher is spending their authors’ royalties on their own expenses, well, that would explain why they aren’t paying their authors, wouldn’t it?!

I recommend reporting them to their state’s attorney general. The online form is HERE. At least one author who contacted us was able to get his production files after threatening to do that. However, Infinity Publishing / Fast Pencil has been charging some authors for those, which is horrible because the authors already paid them to produce those files. You would think that, after what they’ve done to their authors, they’d simply send those files to each author for free. But, after all of the complaints I’ve read about them over the years, I’m not surprised by their most recent conduct.

The company could have also simply transferred their authors and files to another publisher to avoid all the problems they’re having now. In fact, they can still do that but I don’t think they will because, in my opinion, they took the easy way out, and figured out how to get even more money from their authors in the process.

Here is their address:

Fastpencil, Inc.
517 Boston Post Rd
Sudbury, MA 01776-7600

Since they no longer have the right to sell your books, I also recommend submitting a copyright infringement complaint to Amazon. Important advice on how to do that is HERE.



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


An author forwarded an email he received from Brilliant Books Literary / Like many of these types of solicitations, the email makes it look like they actually read the authors book (offering praise). I seriously doubt that is the case. wanted to showcase the author’s book at a large book festival. The author wanted to know if it was a good deal.

1. The email did not quote a price but it offered 40% off. Uh huh.

2. Their website is a pain. The box to subscribe kept popping up over and over again and I had a hard time viewing anything after clicking on the links at the top of the page.

3. I gave up trying to get any info. from the website itself, and moved on over to Google instead.

4. has an F Rating on Don’t miss the one-star reviews and the complaints. I can’t imagine anyone reading those hiring Brilliant Books Literary to do anything.

5. Check out this image posted by Writer Beware.

I always tell authors to avoid book fairs. Rather than repeat myself, read these:


Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles

90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book's Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy

Promoting your book online should be considered at least a part-time job. Highly successful authors spend more time promoting a book than they do writing it - a lot more.

We know what you're thinking. You're an author, not a marketer. Not to worry! We have more than a decade of successful online book selling experience under our belts and we're going to teach you how to promote your book effectively online...and almost all of our techniques are FREE!

Online book promotion is not only simple but, if you have a step-by-step, day-to-day marketing plan (this book!), it can also be a very artistic endeavor, which makes it fun for creative folks like you!

Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90...and beyond!

Q –


My wife is working on a Christmas novel and we would like to know when you think we should publish it. We assume that early in October would be best.



Some people start their Christmas shopping in September so I recommend sending the final manuscript to BookLocker no later than the first week of August. That will give us time to get the formatting/design finished, and get the book on the market in time for the Christmas shopping season. We usually get a book to market within a month. 🙂



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles


Q –

Hi Angela,

I have a Facebook account that I use to solicit business for my services. I’d like to turn my informational posts (they’re like articles) into a book but I’m not sure how to do that. Any advice?


A –

Lots of people are deciding to do this, especially if they’ve been giving away free advice to their potential customers on their social media accounts and/or blog posts.

Here’s what to do:

1. Copy and paste all of the posts you want in your book into one MSWord file (or another word processing or text program).

2. Organize them in the order you want them to appear in the book. For example, you can organize them by subject (or similar subjects), and put different sections in your book. Each “post” can then be a chapter in your book.

2. Submit the file for consideration at I’d love to see it! 🙂



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Read More "Ask The Expert" Articles

Q –

Angela, I wanted you to let me know what you think about the email below that I recently received.


Dear (name removed),

My name is (name removed). Congratulations on getting a recommendation on your book from our Book Scouts.

Book Title: (removed)

We have made a preliminary endorsement of your book to our partners in different industries. Bookstores, Traditional Publishers, and Movie Producers, and a handful of them showed high interest in your book. Our main objective is to bridge the gap and build a possible partnership with decision-makers in these industries.

Also, we want to share some exciting news with you. One of our talented authors has recently received a promising offer from a film production company for the adaptation of their book and one author to be acquired by local bookstores in the USA based on the (name removed)…..

A –

Blah blah blah. It goes on to list a film deal, a bookstore placement, etc., etc. – All difficult to verify but it’s the same garbage I’ve seen from so many companies before.

The person sending the email included this:

Much Respect,

Best regards,

Clearly it’s a copy and paste spam.

Other red flags:

The email had a U.S. address but Writer Beware states they are in the Philippines.

They are emailing and calling authors all over. There are many reports of them doing this online. If they MUST resort to spam and telemarketing, they are NOT a real literary agency.

There are no prices on their website. That’s always a HUGE red flag.

Their website claims they want to get you a traditional contract…yet they sell book publishing services.

There are many more red flags as well and we have exposed this firm’s actions in WritersWeekly previously.

And, simply Googling the name of the firm brings up numerous complaints.

REMEMBER, IF ANY “LITERARY AGENT” CONTACTS YOU VIA EMAIL OR BY PHONE, IT’S A SCAM! Real literary agents are too busy going through their slush piles than to go hunting for victims online.

The reason I’m not revealing the name of this particular company is because authors need to be aware of EVERY company that contacts them in this manner.




Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.



Q –

Hi, Angela,

I hope your Holiday was splendid and blessed. Thanks for any help you gave in getting my third mystery out there.

Question: today I received an email addressed to my pseudonym from (someone who owns a book review website). She claims she reviews new books, has been doing this for years, and has increased the sales of new authors. She has a fairly impressive website with lots of books and synopses…including (best selling books).

She has invited me to reply and ask any question about her business. Her English was good. Do you know about her? Is she legit? Or should I reply and ask some questions?

A –

I checked out her website. She definitely charges for reviews. She’s not offering free services.

I doubt she has much reach. If she’s reviewed best sellers, she probably did it for free (didn’t even tell the author or publisher) to make her site look more legitimate.

The fact that she spammed you trying to get business says a lot, too. NEVER do business with spammers. They are desperate and that’s a huge red sign.

To get legitimate reviews to use in your marketing materials, read this:

How To EASILY Get Awesome and Honest Book Reviews That REALLY Carry Weight With Readers!

Do YOU think this was a book review scam? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below! 🙂



Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.



Q –


I am sorry that I keep hitting you with this garbage, but you are the only resource I have that I trust. Authors Tranquility Press wants me to pay $7,500.00 to Harper’s Magazine for an ad for my book. According to Aime St. Johnson, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s is Jenna Sommers. According to Harper’s website, the Editor-in-Chief is Tracy Grant.

Any comments?


The author shared a copy of an email from a woman allegedly named Aime St. Johnson who was using a email address. She cc’d Rachel Hayes ( on the email. We found Rachel on LinkedIn. She is in the Philippines. Author’s Tranquility Press claims they are in Atlanta, Georgia.

I removed Rachel’s photo from this screenshot for copyright reasons:

The pdf file forwarded to the author by Aime St Johnson was addressed to:

Aime St Johnson
Position: Literary Agent
Representing: Authors Tranquility Press

Notice the missing apostrophe in the company’s name. I seriously doubt that Aime St Johnson (if that’s even a real person) is a legitimate literary agent. The pdf file had Harper Collins logo on it.

The sender of the email tried to get the author to purchase a $7,500 (!!!) ad in Harper’s Magazine. She wrote, “This is an opportunity to have your book featured in the prestigious Harper’s Magazine prior to its acquisition by Harper’s Group.

She further claimed that Harper’s Group was unable to provide funding upfront because they’re about to get acquired. She then said they would reimburse the author once the contract is finalized.

That is TOTAL B.S.!

The pdf implies that the ad for Harper’s Magazine needs to be purchased before an official contract to publish the book will be offered. They will then (4-6 months later) offer the author an advance of $45,000. Except…we all know that was never going to happen. They were just trying to bait the author into paying $7,500. And, I seriously doubt an ad would have ever appeared even after he paid the “literary agent” $7,500.

The pdf file is electronically signed by Jenna Sommers, Editor in Chief. However, nobody with that name appears on the masthead of Harper’s Magazine. That name also does not appear anywhere on the Harper Collins “team” page.

And, Harper’s Magazine isn’t even owned by Harper Collins!

In 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson & Company, becoming Harper & Row (now HarperCollins). In 1965, the magazine was separately incorporated, and became a division of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company, owned by the Cowles Media Company.

-Source: Wikipedia

Here’s my response to the author:

Look at this:

“We have received reports that individuals impersonating HarperCollins staff or claiming to be literary agents are targeting authors with false book acquisition offers. These individuals request that the author pay them or provide sensitive financial information in exchange for literary services or to facilitate a publishing agreement. Their emails sometimes include letters purporting to bear HarperCollins’ logos, imprint names, and staff signatures.”

MacMillan Publishers specifically lists Author’s Tranquility Press on their fraud alert page!

Please be aware that Macmillan does not work with or have any relationship with the following:

  • Author’s Tranquility Press
  • Brilliant Books Literary
  • Literary Press Agency
  • PageTurner Press & Media
  • Spark Literary
  • Stellar Publishing
  • Tyler Literary
  • Tyler Literature
  • Word Talk Press
  • Writers Press LLC
  • Writers Press Publishing House

This list is not exhaustive.

And, read complaints about Author’s Tranquility Press on

And, read reviews of Author’s Tranquility Press on

There are other complaints posted about them online as well.

On their own website, this box pops up:

Public Advisory

Please be advised that Author’s Tranquility Press is NOT affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any other marketing, advertising, and publishing firms or any of its subsidiaries. Please note: Our official email addresses all ends with, and our main line is (866) 411-8655.

So, are they trying to say that other scammers are impersonating them? I don’t think so. Why? Because the email sent to the author above was copied to an email address. Furthermore, if you click on the complaints above, they deal with many issues at the company, not just those discussed in this article.

While we know it’s tempting to believe emails and actual pdf files with logos, typed dollar signs, and lots of zeroes, in today’s online scammer climate, in all likelihood, all of those offers are fake.

If you have been the victim of this type of crime, or if you are contacted by this company, or another one pretending to be a legitimate publisher, immediately report them to their state’s attorney general. Most of those sites have online complaint forms. Unfortunately, many of these firms are located overseas. The only recourse against them is to spread the word far and wide online so other authors won’t fall victim to these crimes.


Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


Ask The Expert Archives

2 Responses to "The Flying Nun, Oprah, and Me – by John Riddle"

  1. Amy Bartlett  May 4, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Great piece and great encouragement as always to keep the writer’s nose to the grindstone. Consistent message from one of the best freelance-process “coach”es in the biz.

  2. Roy Stevenson  March 30, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Nice inspirational piece, John! Good for you, for keeping on. I’m wondering if the 200 websites you have written for all paid for your work, or if you wrote for some of them gratis?