Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of DEATH HAS A NAME by Jerry Hanel

 4 of 5 stars

 DEATH HAS A NAME is a smart inventive story that puts a unique spin on The Truth, not my truth or your truth, but THE TRUTH.  For Brodie Wade, The Truth is something he can see and must obey unquestioningly or suffer the consequences.  And suffer he does—from traumatizing physical abuse to being declared insane in his childhood.  The author does an excellent job of slowly revealing Brodie’s back-story throughout the book and it only makes you root more for this damaged young man. 

Brodie has channeled his psychic abilities into a semi-permanent job with the local police department.  His contact, Detective Phil Dawson, believes in Brodie and his ability even though he doesn’t understand it.  Brodie cannot reveal how he knows the things he does because frankly, who would believe him—“oh, by the way, I see phantoms who speak to me and wisps of gray fog everywhere demanding I listen to its whispers.”  The whole situation reminds me of the famous Jack Nicholson line in ‘A Few Good Men’, “You can’t handle the truth!”

When Detective Dawson calls Brodie in on another gruesome murder scene, Brodie gets his bad tingling feeling about it.  When the investigation takes a horrible turn and another body turns up, Brodie finds himself the prime suspect for the murders and lands in jail.  What The Truth reveals to him next is something far worse than two dead men.  If Brodie cannot follow the clues and solve the murders, a lot more than his freedom is at stake.  If the Angel of Death is freed, life on Earth as we know it will be destroyed.

The story is fast-paced and kept my attention throughout.  I would have loved for the author to reveal some back-story on how Phil and Brodie met, but I suppose that’s more material for another novel.  The copy I received, however, could use the eyes of a good editor.  There were typos that jarred me out of the story.  All and all, this is a very good book and I highly recommend it. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

MY LOVE FOR YA NOVELS by Julie Lindsey

How My Love for Young Adult Novels Led to a Contract in Romance
by Julie Lindsey

First, I want to thank Deb for allowing me to be a part of her blog. I enjoy her so much and am excited to be here, so Thank you Deb!!! Now, my post ;)

How did I get a contract for a sweet romance? I am unashamedly YA obsessed. I’m not certain why that’s true, but it definitely is. Aside from my Stephanie Plum addiction and Janet Evanovich worship, I’m really a straight YA girl.

I read a YA novel every day or two. Reading is like breathing for me these days and as a result my TBR pile is finally shrinking. I’m getting close to caught up on all the new releases. Thank goodness I found NetGalley where I can request books that haven’t come out yet. I’ve been lucky enough to receive for ARC eBooks in the past two weeks through my membership there. I probably don’t need to tell you they’re all Young Adult titles.

Plenty of people have trouble understanding why I read YA so voraciously. I’m not sure I can articulate it as well as I’d like, but I want to try. YA novels are written with a teen main character, and the focus is on the teen life, drama, angst, chaos and love. No one worries about how to pay the bills or if their marriage is in trouble. There are no angry ex-husbands or dead end jobs to stress about. It’s a fabulous escape from the daily grind of being a grown up. Better still, there is nearly always a romance element in a YA novel. Of course there is. Didn’t boys make up the vast majority of our private conversations for over a decade?

Teens love to fall in love and so do I. I realize now this is another big reason I lean to YA for my reading. I try to fall in love with my husband on a daily basis and for the most part, I do all right. In a way, I thank all my YA reading for keeping it light and reminding me how precious love is. I want to preserve and nurture it, so I try.

Young Adult novels can be written in any genre, but the focal point is the teen. I read contemporary YA, paranormal YA, YA mysteries and thrillers and humor. I love them all and devour them daily. What I didn’t understand until recently about my own fascination was that the thread binding them all was the romance. I get so wrapped up in the stories that I share the MC’s sweaty palms and wobbly knees. I labor through the scenes of betrayal and I exalt in their reunions.

Honestly, I should’ve realized sooner. I’m addicted to love. Not the hot, wet, physical love, (though I don’t dismiss that in any way-ever), but the sweet, tender, honest love which transcends all else. I believe in the love of two people who only want each other, who honor and respect and enjoy one another. I found that in my husband, and I love writing about it for my characters.

Sure, I was slow in my epiphany, but what counts is that it arrived.

This is where I put my theory to test. A dear friend of mine publishes romances books with a small press. I’d never considered submitting there because I thought of them as a romance publisher and myself as a YA writer. Turns out I was wrong. While my humorous women’s fiction was on submissions with my agent this winter, I took a break from writing full-length manuscripts and drew up a short, sweet romance. The novel was complete at 24K words. It was the shortest novel I’d ever written. I submitted it to my friend’s press and it was accepted.

Now, thanks to my obsession with true, unspoiled love and all its glory, I’ve found a new way to write my bliss. I found a home with Turquoise Morning Press publishing. My first novella, Bloom will be out in February 2012, and I hope to stop back later this year to tell you more about that.

I’ve since contracted a humorous women’s fiction with kNight Romance Publishing too. It’s titled Death by Chocolate, and it is the first in a three part series: The Killer Confections Saga.  Death by Chocolate will be on shelves in August 2012. It’s a funny twist on an old favorite of mine, but it won’t soon replace my love of romance.

My agent is reading my new YA submission as I type this post and I have my fingers crossed for that one. There’s a love triangle, and first kisses, and honest joy nuzzled into all the seams and I hope desperately to see it in print one day too.

For now, I’m working on another sweet romance to keep Bloom company. Understanding that it’s the romance that draws me in has shifted my writing in a new and exciting way. I hope to write many more stories of love before long. I hope too that you’ll enjoy them.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll give YA a try and spend some time pinpointing why you read what you read. Maybe you’ll discover another genre you love to write too!

Author Bio:
As an only child I had plenty of time to people watch and make things up.  When I didn't think I could make a living at the latter, my love of people led me to a BA in Psychology instead.  A few years and three kids later, I discovered the thrill of writing. 

Hopelessly caffeine addicted and bouncing through life, writing became a harness for my seemingly endless supply of energy and enthusiasm.  Best of all, writing created something of value in the wake.

You can find me online – all the time J I blog my writing life at Musings From a Midwestern Writer where I share tips, thoughts & tricks for the writing life.  I keep an author site too and a facebook fan page, but you’ll see me chatting on twitter @JulieALindsey around the clock. Look me up and say Hi!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Statistics for Two Ends of the Pen

I think most bloggers would agree that they want their blogs to be of interest to their followers.  I strive to schedule a diverse group of posts--hopefully, something of interest to everyone.  Every now and then I post the statistics.  I like to know how I'm doing and perhaps some of you do as well.

Here's the stats for Audience.  A hearty welcome to all my international followers. Last month I had over 6800 page views. To say the least, I was thrilled!

And here are the stats for the panel discussions from the day they were posted:

Thank you to all my followers who keep coming back every day.  I hope that you continue to find Two Ends of the Pen an interesting site to visit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interview with Susan Bischoff

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
The Talent Chronicles series is set in a world in which some kids are developing supernatural abilities. Because of a fear factor in the general population, enhanced by government propaganda, when a kid is discovered to have one of these abilities—Talents—they’re removed to a State School where most are never heard from again.

In Hush Money, the first book in the series, Joss is a teenage girl who has always been very focused on keeping a low profile and keeping her secret. Kat, a new girl at school, decides to make a project of bringing Joss out of her shell, and when Kat gets into trouble with a guy named Marco, Joss gets pulled into a situation where she has to decide between her father’s strict, don’t get involved training and her conscience. Meanwhile, Marco’s friend Dylan, on whom Joss has had a crush since, like, forever, finds himself caught in a similar dilemma, between the habit of a friendship that’s dying, his conscience, and his developing feelings for Joss.

A short story, Impulse Control, introduces a different set of characters and takes place in one of the State Schools in The Talent Chronicles world. It’s available for free at many sites that allow free ebooks as well as in the Kiss Me, Kill Me paranormal romance anthology.

The continuation of Joss’s and Dylan’s story, Heroes ’Til Curfew, is my current work in progress. A release date for that is not yet available.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I never went that way. I became aware of the current trends in self-publishing at a time when I had, essentially, given up on writing this series because the attitudes around me regarding traditional publishing—especially for series work—were so negative that it no longer seemed reasonable to put so much time and emotional effort into the project. Indie publishing gave me the spark to start writing again.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I don’t belong to a critique group, but I do have a long-time critique partner, Kait Nolan, author of the Mirus series. She and I have been working closely together for…four years now. Without a doubt, it has been the most important relationship in my writing life. I’ve learned so much through working and learning with her, things I never would have come to sitting in a room by myself.

I think some kind of critique relationship, whether it’s with one person or a group of people, is the best thing you can do for your writer’s education. That said, a bad fit can do you more harm than good and it’s important to feel that the relationship is helping you grow rather than discouraging you.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
I loved the idea of being able to work on my own schedule, and the knowledge that I could continue the series, in any direction I wanted to go, as long as I wanted to write it. To me, indie publishing is very much like indie crafting. It’s about creating what you’re moved to create and then finding those readers who are like you enough to want that.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I didn’t know whom to hire, so I did have a dozen people I knew review the manuscript before publishing it. Kait and I had been over it quite a bit by the time it got into the hands of the beta readers, and I got little back in terms of editorial feedback. Kait does copy-editing at a professional level for her day job, and also on a free-lance basis for authors and a few publications, and some of my beta readers were fellow authors. So I felt I was pretty covered in that respect.

I think I got pretty lucky with Hush Money in that it did come out to be a very tight manuscript that accounted for the lack of editorial comments. I believe in a good critique and would love to see more content-editing options readily available to the indie community.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Seriously, that could take all day. It feels like I’ve learned everything, and then I turn around and learn something new. Two highlights:

Everyone’s here for different reasons and with different goals. Assuming everyone wants the same thing often leads to bad feelings. 

Everyone’s path is different because of how they got here, where they want to go, and a whole host of other factors. There is little to be gained by comparing your numbers, or other earmarks of success, with someone else except a whole pot of crazy, because it’s really apples and oranges.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
In ebook at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, iBookstore, Scribd, Borders AU.

In paperback at Amazon US and UK, B&N, Book Depository, CreateSpace, Books-a-Million, Borders. (At some of these it’s available via third-party vendors only.)

I think limiting yourself in terms of vendors and formats is a mistake and it’s one I really can’t get my head around when I see it. I know that when I was getting started I was finding a lot of work available on Amazon only. I hope we’re getting to a point in the indie community where we’re keeping everyone informed about available vendors and how to work with them.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’m at a point now where I’m really not actively marketing (and it shows in the sales and rankings, I’m afraid). I never did much on forums, and while I have a presence on Facebook and Myspace, I never really mastered those. I blog and I try to show up on Twitter. I had some luck generating interest via Goodreads in the beginning. (Not by spamming discussion threads, though! See the Increasing Kindle Rank series on my blog if you need details.) I think the best thing I did was to try to get reviews in the beginning, especially from book bloggers who have been very kind to me. Those early reviews helped me achieve visibility and good word of mouth.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Totally. And it might not be so much time as frame of mind. In general I seem to be the kind of person who gets involved completely in one thing at a time. When I was heavily into learning about indie, marketing, etc., my writing really suffered. So right now I’m trying to put that aside and focus on the writing again. I envy multi-taskers.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Be certain that you and the work are ready before it goes out
Get the best cover art you can afford
Keep the price on your first book as low and impulse-level as you can
Don’t be afraid to give away lots of review copies
Learn to think like your customer

What’s next for you?
I’ve just been approached by and signed with literary agent Jane Dystel. She’s very enthusiastic about my writing and about the commercial appeal of the series. As I finish up Heroes ’Til Curfew, the next step for me may well be traditional publication, something that fills me with terror and excitement at the same time. The concerns I have about the industry are still there, but somewhat mitigated by things I’ve learned this year and an understanding that everything is not black, white, and, like, graven in stone. Regardless of some of the mathematical formulas that have been floating around and the possibility being able to make more money as an indie with higher royalties, it’s impossible for me to ignore the potential for reaching a larger audience. And probably more importantly, it would be hard for me to turn my back on the learning experience such an opportunity might provide. That’s the part I get really excited about. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Release: A SHADOW'S LIGHT by J.M. Pierce

Book blurb: After fleeing his home in Lincoln , Test Davis settles in the small town of Saratoga , Wyoming , where he hopes to slip into obscurity.  But when his boss’s niece, Alyssa, draws him reluctantly into a relationship, he’s afraid he won’t be able to hide who—and what—he really is.

When a horrific confrontation with to co-workers forces Test to go back on the run, he reunites with an old friend, discovers that Alyssa has a secret of her own, and finds the answer to the question he’s been too afraid to ask:

What am I?

Amazon buy link:

Author Bio:
J.M. Pierce is a simple midwestern man with a creative side who has found writing as his primary outlet. He lives happily with his wife and two children in rural Kansas and finds happiness in a good cup of coffee, a Kansas sunrise, a good book, the sound of his daughter singing, his son's laughter, and his wife's eyes. Everything else is gravy.


Monday, April 25, 2011

HORROR: A Constant State of Fear

On Horror 

Michael R. Collings

A cursory look at fiction offerings at Kindle, Smashwords, NookBook, Diesel, and other online outlets suggests that as a genre, horror is at the least holding its own. A search under “horror” in the Kindle Store leads to over 12,700 individual offerings. Title after title boasts vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghouls, ghosts, and other denizens of darkness and despair. Granted, some of the novels may be little more than mindless forays into blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore; and others may demonstrate little in the way of sophisticated writing skills; but the fact remains that horror novels—many of them very good horror novels—provide one of the mainstays of e-book publication.

Several months ago, while finishing the manuscript for a collection of essays, Toward Other Worlds: Perspectives on John Milton, C. S. Lewis, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, and Others  (Wildside, August 2010; Adobe Digital Edition, September 2010), it struck me that it might be worthwhile considering some of the reasons why horror is popular right now, particularly in e-publications.

Certainly we live in a world that invites us to contemplate darkness in manifold forms. We fear diseases, including threatened and threatening pandemics that might sweep the globe at any moment. We fear natural disasters that seem to be coming faster and hitting harder than our preparations (when we even have any) can cope with. We fear political and social instability that leads to revolution and death. We fear alterations in the way the world itself functions, with battles-of-words—and often more—over such concepts as sudden climate change, overpopulation and resource management, genetic engineering, and many more. We fear…. We fear….

We live, as Michael Crichton wrote in one of his last books, in a persistent State of Fear.

So why do we find ourselves drawn in such numbers to fictions that seem designed to manipulate and heighten that state of fear by extending it to the supernatural?

In a word…why horror?

In his 1981 study of horror fiction, Danse Macabre, Stephen King discusses three levels of horror:

I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud. (Ch. 2)

Revulsion—the Gross-out—is, as King suggests, relatively easy to accomplish. At its simplest merely requires sufficient blood and guts, painstakingly detailed in graphic descriptions, accompanied in many cases by graphic language. At this level the most vocal arguments against horror as genre take place. It exploits base instincts and antisocial behavior. It is excessively violent, even for a culture in which violence has become almost commonplace. It imports creatures of darkness when our world already hosts more than we can manage. It lacks in subtlety and realism. It is escapism (although why one would want to escape to such worlds is problematical at best). It is grotesque. It is obscene.

At the other extreme, true Terror, the moment that generates a frisson down the spine just before the monster is revealed, requires extraordinary facility with language, characterization, and setting to accomplish, and only a few masters—among them Poe and Lovecraft, as well as King himself—create it consistently. When it occurs, and when Horror and Revulsion are used critically and carefully, such literature may demonstrate a number of useful traits.

At the thematic level perhaps, horror can be applied metaphorically or symbolically. The literary monsters may stand for literal monsters that threaten everyday life. A vampire suddenly appearing in a small town and systematically preying on its inhabitations may easily transform into a condemnation of the contemporary sense of isolation that afflicts many if not most communities. People live separated lives. They do not notice the alterations in or absence of their neighbors until it is too late—the bonds of civility have already broken and the sense of community disappears.

The vampire may also be, and often is, sexualized until it exemplifies both the allure and the tragedy of uninhibited lust. By virtue of its existence—neither dead nor alive; its mode of feeding—penetration and bloodletting; and the inescapably body-oriented nature of its attacks—usually male upon female, the vampire can easily slip from a figure of horror into quasi-pornography, especially when the transmission of blood is described in loving, overly sensual detail.

The werewolf may represent the abrupt, inexplicable intrusion of death into a family or community. Unseen and unsuspected until it lashes out in rage and inflicts carnage on its victims, the werewolf parallels disease—cancer, for example—and its insidious rampage within a healthy body. It may stand for accident or fate; there is no cause, no rational or purpose behind its sudden eruption—it simply is, and by its presence disrupts order and security.

Most other literary monsters may serve parallel functions. Zombies epitomize the loss of agency and rationality; Amazons demonstrate the threat of sexual disparity; Creatures from Other Dimensions, including Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, embody the threat of the unknown, of the breakdown of reason and intellect into madness. Ghosts, Demons, the Haunted Place/Bad Place, and other denizens of darkness—each may in its turn speak volumes about the human condition.

On a more literal level, horror may work in a manner similar to classical tragedy. When written effectively, with an eye on creating terror rather than mere revulsion, horror may combine pity and fear to achieve a kind of Aristotelian catharsis—one focused on the purging of specific strong emotions, including fear itself. Horror allows the reader to confront an object or objects of pity, usually the victims, frequently innocent or inoffensive victims; and an object of terror, horror, or revulsion—the monster or monsters. And by juxtaposition of the two, the reader may legitimately feel, even experience fear in a safe, controlled environment. This fear may in fact be physically expressed, through a rise in heartbeat, increased rate of respiration, even a literal chill up the spine. In any case, the physical response allows the reader to undergo and thereby purge the effects of fear without physical danger.

And finally, the reader of horror is more often than not exposed to the most literal sort of morality. Unlike in the experiential world, in the worlds of horror, evil, wrong, or even misguided actions have immediate consequences. Cause and effect are clearly linked. If a mad scientist creates a monster, eventually the monster will turn on its creator. At least as far back as Shelley’s Frankenstein, this has been a leitmotif of horror fiction. The responsibility of creator to creature—and for the acts of the creature—in part defines the plot itself. If a teenage couple have illicit sex and thereby participate in an adult action without being prepared to accept the concomitant responsibilities, they die, frequently during the act itself. There is no reprieve, no opportunity for a second chance. Transgression leads to death.

It is possible for horror itself to be essentially immoral. Novels exist in which characters are introduced and almost immediately destroyed, merely for the sake of blood and gore. The monster itself becomes little more than a killing machine and the plot determined not by causal relationships among episodes but by the simple need for more blood. The horror of unrelieved revulsion, in other words, runs the risk of existing solely for the sake of that revulsion, with little thought of creating the more transcendent horror or terror. Such fiction verges on the immoral, if not the obscene, not through the representation of unacceptable language or events but because of its cavalier attitude toward characters and their lives.

On the whole, however, those writers most frequently cited as masters in the field—Poe, Lovecraft, King, Koontz, McCammon, and a handful of others—consistently provide tales that, however close they come to mere revulsion, ultimately lead the reader to a heightened sense of morality, of catharsis of fear, and of the relationship between story and life, between characters and the reader.

This is one reason why I write horror. My first such novel, The House Beyond the Hill (Wildside, 2007; Kindle, 2011) explicitly concentrates on fear. In fact, my editor affixed a subtitle to the book when it was first published, “A Novel of Fear.” But it is simultaneously a novel of redemption. Fear exists. In the world of the novel, it quite literally destroys, and in doing so condemns both body and soul. But by understanding fear and combating it as a community my characters overcome their own private horrors and ultimately redeem even the dead.

My second novel The Slab (Wildside, 2010; Kindle, 2011) works on a slightly different level. It’s subtitle reads: “A Novel of Horror.” In the world of The Slab, things—most specifically, houses—may be inherently evil and inflict horror and terror upon those who live there. One reviewer compared the novel to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, writing:

In Haunting, the house was built off-center to resemble the mind of its architect; the house is crazy. In The Slab, the house's foundation is cracked, corrupted and disturbed to the core and a hopeless cause-and that is the literal sense. In the spiritual sense, it was built by a corrupt man and is destined to destroy anyone who lives there.

From such evil there is no easy escape. The house consumes everyone. None remain unscathed.

It was a fascinating novel to write because I lived in the house I describe for nearly a quarter of a century…and it came near to literally driving me mad. Almost everything in The Slab has at least a tangential connection to something that happened to me or my family…carried to the nth degree of horror and terror. And, in the end, I was able to bring my own anger and fury at the house (and the builder, and the people who sold it to us knowing its serious construction flaws) to bear on a safe object—I could destroy the imaginary construct that stood, in my mind, for reality.

My current novel-in-progress, Images, deals with the question of identity. We fear the loss of our identity—our selves­­--in many ways. Literally, evil people comb through garbage cans seeking bits of information by which they can insinuate themselves into innocent lives and steal at leisure. Others strike deeper, at our sense of who and what we are, challenging the assumptions that lay at the root of our beings. What it means to be male, what it means to be female, how one sex relates to the other, where boundaries between them might lie—these questions lie at the heart of Images, mediated through the metaphor of television and film.

In each case, the novels confront some element of our world that is in jeopardy. The frisson of fear, of terror that each might create in the reader is part of its reason for existence. If we can confront that fear, that terror through imaginative fiction, and walk away strengthened, then to that extent it might be easier to confront the horrors of daily life.

Author bio: Michael R. Collings has published nearly 120 books over the past thirty years, many of them studies of horror literature as exemplified by the works of Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Robert McCammon and others. He is considered to be a ranking authority on King. He has also published horror novels and collections of dark short tales.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011


A little something for everyone.

I've received an Inspiration Award

Suzanne Tyrpak has awarded me an Inspiration Award.  Thank you so much.  I'm honored to be included in your list of awardees!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Need Suggestions for more Panel Discussions

The panel discussions that I've done in the past are extremely popular with my followers.  They get hits everyday which is awesome.  It's time to set up a few more!

So, I like to put out a call for suggestions for some new topics for panel discussions.  If you suggest a topic and want to comment on it as well, be sure to let me know in the comments section.  You don't have to comment, just make a suggestion, if there is a writing topic you'd like to see discussed.  I'll find the authors to comment on the topic, no problem.

You can see the full list of discussions I've already done in the side bar.

What topic do you want to see discussed?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Interview with Linda Prather

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.  How long did it take you to finish that manuscript?
I started my first book at a writer's retreat.  I finished the first draft in a week, but it took nearly a year to research and hone it to what I thought was a good book.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Actually at the end of the writer's retreat the next year we had an opportunity to meet with publishers and editors and I pitched my novel to a publisher who asked for the manuscript.  I published my first novel with a small press.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
Basically I wasn't happy with everything related to my published work, my second novel was almost ready to publish, and I had received my rights back from the first book.  Having read success stories such as J. A. Konrath's and Karen McQuestion I decided to give it a go and see what happened.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information? How involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
The original cover for The Gifts was designed by the publisher.  The new covers on the ebooks were designed by me.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
It's a very satisfying journey, but also a lot of work.  I've made some really wonderful friends in the Indie network, and I've discovered some great writers.  I guess the greatest lesson in the self-publishing journey is the same with the traditionally published journey--it takes time to get noticed.  Be patient, promote your work and keep writing.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Just about everywhere that ebooks are available.  Smashwords, B & N, Sony and Apple just to name a few.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
All of them.  I spend time each day on Facebook, twitter, Kindleboards, MySpace and other less known areas.  I also blog at least three times a week, and I do author interviews and book reviews.   I'm also on Goodreads and several author forums.

What’s next for you?
More books.  I’m currently working on a psychic thriller that I love.  I also have a satire work I've been playing with, and it seems the imagination just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny.  If I just had loads of money and lots of time I could keep churning them out.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog Streaking with Thea Atkinson

For the month of April, fellow author, Thea Atkinson is streaking through 30 blogs and flashing us a piece of fiction. I generously offered her a space today so she could expose a piece. My blog will be back to normal tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy and follow the links at the end to see who she flashed yesterday and who she will flash tomorrow. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you enjoyed the streak, and you are welcome to tweet it or share it on Facebook. You can also follow the chain through twitter with the hashtag #blogstreak

Rosary Braids
By Thea Atkinson

Seven months ago I had hair. They tell me it'll grow back eventually, although it might curl like licks of flame around a dried out log of pine. It might even come back in patches. I don't care if it ever grows back. He liked my hair, and now that the chemo has devoured it like a hungry Labrador retriever, he finds other ways to amuse himself and leaves me alone.

Last time I entertained him, months ago, before I got the cancer, he had cursed at me. All I'd said to him was that he looked like a woman with that one fingernail he kept long on his right hand: the pinky. It was white and ridged because of his thyroid trouble -- overactive, like most of him -- and he used that nail, I knew, to scoop cocaine and press it delicately to his nostrils. Like a snuff sniffer from the 1800s except there was no way he could be a gentleman. Not by a long shot.

Like a woman, I'd said to him, because he had grown soft in the chest over the years. His breasts sagged. I chuckled, thinking he'd enjoy the joke, and he seemed to at first, reached out to me as we lay together on our bed, nude, both of us. He ringed my nipple with that nail. Smiled. Three seconds later my nipple hurt. Three after that, my scalp did. He so loved my hair, he took it in fistfuls. Handfuls that he yanked hard when he beat me, or wrenched when he made love to me. My hair was always in his hands, heated in passion or in anger.

He said hair made a woman beautiful. Any woman. And every one of them should wear it long. He has no patience for short, manly styles, although even with my hair long, I still couldn't escape having to fight back like one.

So it was no good to me, hair. It attracted him because it reached my waist. At first he treated me as beautifully as he said my hair looked. He touched me as softly as it felt. But that was years ago.

Sometimes now I wonder what the neighbours think when they hear him yelling at me in the middle of the afternoon. His voice makes the glasses rattle in the cupboards, his language so foul it would taste like rotten meat if it were a meal. Doesn't matter what starts the discussion, could be a simple question about what he wants for dinner. He calls me names.

I wonder if the spinster next door rocks in her chair when she hears him yell, spilling her rosary down her chest through her fingers, thanking God with each bead that she never married. I see her walking to church in the evenings. I'm careful to keep a kerchief over my head when I peek through the curtains so she doesn't catch my scalp winking in the waning light. She always scurries past my house, afraid I suppose, my cancer is catching.

I wonder, too, if he can be heard three blocks down where the pert 20 year-old waits for him with a negligee made of lemon silk. She has black hair. Curls. He comes home now and then with strands in his collar; the smell of her perfume creeps ahead of him when he opens the door. He doesn't see me sitting in the chair watching him, praying like that spinster from next door.

I'm invisible to him now, hailing Mary quietly, but fervently for that naive brunette, with each remembered lock. I pray she catches the cancer too.

april 20 jennifer lane

april 21 deb martin
Rosary Braids

April 22 leah petersen


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Zombies Are Distracting!

Zombies Are Very Distracting
By Syria Evans of Syria Says Reviews

I probably have over 125 books in my queue and I’m still not anywhere close to being caught up on them. The response to Syria Says has been both overwhelming and awesome and for that, I am eternally grateful. It’s been wonderful, y’all!

But, of the five or six people that I actually know - not counting my family (which I have yet to meet my actual family as the people that raised me claim that I was left on their doorstep by gypsies) – I would say that I read quite fast and am even able to comprehend most of what I ingest (literarily speaking, of course). But, I feel like I’m not making a dent in the growing list and here I sit…still not reading. But, this bloggins is important too. So, I give myself a pass. So there.

My days usually follow this kind of a pattern:

Basically, if a book catches my attention in the first, let’s say 2 or 3 paragraphs, I can power through one 280-page book in an average 8 hour work day. (I tend to try to stretch it out over 2 days because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a slacker at work.) I know that may not seem like a great accomplishment, but given that I suffer from some srrss ADD and actually work at least 3 to 4 hours of said workday, it gets a little bit more srrss, doesn’t it? And I do mean “srrss” like as in: “That chick can SRRSSLY read with the quickness!”

But, the problem is that every book I read and review may not grab me like a hungry zombie in a cemetery on Halloween; I may end up languishing somewhere between, “Well, it’s goooood…? It doesn’t make me feel like running to the nearest living thing and killing it? It’s a slow starter? It gets better?” and “OH. MI. GOD! WILL THIS WORD CIRCUS OF A BOOK NEVER END?! *sets self on fire*”

Normally, I push through them. I try to read them for what they are: labors of love full of the author’s blood, sweat and tears. I try to tell myself that just because I didn’t get it or enjoy it, doesn’t mean that another person won’t love it. I also try to remind myself that, “No, the author is NOT trying to bore or offend or depress me. They just chose a topic and/or a style that isn’t my cup of tea.”

(Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’re probably wondering if I haven’t been all that honest with my reviews given that none of them are below a 3 star rating on my site, but if you paid any attention to how I rolled, you would know that I don’t post any reviews below a 3 star…so BAM! The moral integrity of remains uncompromised.)

At any rate, I have had only a couple books that have not struck my fancy and those I have handled in the best way I know how: avoidance. No. I’m kidding. Actually, I try to read through them, find some positive aspects and attempt writing a review. Then I try to email the author.

Full disclosure: I have not yet actually emailed any authors because I worry about rejection.

Not me rejecting them, but them rejecting me and my silly “opinion.” I know that a lot of authors stoically say that, “Reviews aren’t for the authors; they’re for other readers.” And I applaud them for that. But, I’m going to be honest: they still hurt. Even when they come from a positive place or someone as sweet, kind, benevolent, generous, tall, awesome and modest as myself. (One or more of those adjectives may not be entirely accurate.)

I have come close; I’ve even typed up a few of the emails. But, I haven’t sent them yet. I guess I lack the cojones that the Internetz can provide for some people. I guess the ultimate question for me would be: if I did send these emails, would the author hate me forever?

Or if they didn’t hate me, would I actually make a positive impact on their writing and their future in the literary world?

Would you hate me?

Does it always matter what one person writes?

It mattered to you when you wrote your book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Release: DANCE OF BLADES by David Dalglish

I'm happy to showcase the new book by David Dalglish, an author friend I met last year on Kindleboards.  

Here's David's newest book, the highly anticipated sequel to DANCE OF CLOAKS.  We have a running joke that my blog is his "unofficial" website because he has been such a regular visitor.  So, without further adieu!

"Veldaren aches for a purge, and I will be the one to deliver it. Cry out at me if you wish, but it will change nothing. The gold is spent, the orders are given. Let the blood flow."
It's been five years since Haern faked his death to escape the tyranny of his father. He has become the Watcher, a vicious killer who knows no limits, and whose hatred of the thief guilds is unrivaled. But when the son of Alyssa Gemcroft, one of the three leaders of the powerful Trifect, is believed murdered, the slaughter begins anew. Mercenaries flood the streets, with one goal in mind: find and kill the Watcher.

A DANCE OF BLADES by David Dalglish
Peace or destruction; every war must have its end.

About the Author:

David Dalglish currently lives in rural Missouri with his wife Samantha, daughter Morgan, and snake, Velixar. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in Mathematics and currently spends his free time watching Spongebob Squarepants with his daughter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Victorine Lieski, A Year Later & the NYT's bestseller list!

How have things changed for you in the past year?
Things have changed tremendously for me.  Last year I had a novel sitting on my hard drive, and no one knew my name.  Since I self-published last year I've sold 90,000 books and I get fan emails.  My book made it on the USA Today and NYT's best seller lists.  People around town stop me and ask me how my book is doing because they've seen me on the news or read about me in the newspaper.  Quite a few literary agents have contacted me, and I have signed with Rachel Vogel of Movable Type Literary Group.  I got an email from an editor at New American Library, a division of Penguin, who asked about my next book.  I'm just finishing up my second book which my agent will shop to NY.  I could never have imagined these things one year ago.  It's amazing.

What kind of marketing did you do to get your book in front of readers?
I've done quite a few things to get the word out about my book.  I joined forums like and got to know the people there.  I've networked with other authors to do giveaways and promotions.  I've posted on Facebook and Twitter.  I started a blog and I submitted my book to book bloggers.

Do you have a publishing contract for your current book?  Will you consider one? 
I do not currently have a publishing contract, but yes I am considering all options.  I think having options is the best place for any author.  There's no reason to say no to something that hasn't been presented to me yet.

Any foreign rights sold?
I have had inquires but nothing sold yet.

Do you have plans for any more books?
I am just finishing up my second book and I have already started on a third.  If you would have told me that a year ago I wouldn't have believed you, because my rubber stamp business and four kids keep me on my toes.  But with the money that is coming in from my book sales we have been able to ease off the marketing of my rubber stamp business, thus giving me more time to write.

Any advice for newbie authors?
I'm a huge supporter of self-publishing.  My advice would be to join a critique group, polish up your book until it shines, and then put it out there for sale on the Kindle and Nook.  Join Kindleboards and begin reading all you can in the Writer's Cafe.  Network with the other authors and promote as best you can to your audience.  Send your book out to as many book bloggers as you can find, and be professional in all you do.

Victorine and her husband live in Nebraska where they manufacture rubber stamps for the craft industry. They own and operate Victorine Originals Rubber Stamps from their home, where they raise their four children. Victorine has a degree in Art from BYU Idaho, and designs many of the rubber stamps they sell. She has always loved to read, and in her spare time she writes.