Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You're Stuck With Me

This has been an amazing month of guests, and I'd like to thank each and everyone who took time to appear here.  Unfortunately, my guest today is a no-show so I guess you're stuck with me.  As I'm ancient and my brain doesn't work in a snap, I'm replaying a post I used on Danielle Raven's Blog some time ago.  Hey...people watch TV reruns, why not enjoy one on my blog?  *lol* I've added a few updated notes, so enjoy.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I retired in 2003 from a large educational institution after years of working with graduate students, staff, and faculty.  The experience was priceless, and I truly loved what I did.  I was born and raised in California, so moving to TN was a real cultural shock.  I came here in 2004 so I could be close to my grandson.  He was diagnosed with Autism and I intend to make a difference in his life.  I’ve been married for 14 1/2 (now fifteen) years to my second husband, Kelly, who is also my biggest fan.

2. How did you become a writer? Did you always want to be an author when you grew up?

I’ve always like writing…poems, crazy family Christmas letters, even redesigning forms and publications where I worked, but I never dreamed I’d be an author.  I started writing by accident.  One weekend I brought home a laptop from work to complete a project, and when I finished, I felt as though my body has been taken over by Cecile Palmer.  She started typing her story, using my fingers, and I couldn’t stop because I wanted to see how it ended.  That’s how my debut novel, Prairie Peace, came to be.

3. In your own words, what is First Degree Innocence about?

FDI is about a naïve and innocent young woman who finds herself in a terrible situation.  She’s home sick from work when two uniformed police officers and a guy in a suit barge their way into her apartment, searching for cash from a bank robbery.  Someone has fingered her as the driver of the “getaway” car.   My heroine Carrie Lang is tried and convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, and no one believes in her innocence.

My goal in writing this story was to put people behind bars along with her and have them sense what lock-up feels like.  I think I pulled it off. (Notice I’m speaking convict…fingered, getaway, pulled it off.)  See if this works for you:


 The corridor seemed endless. Beneath overhead lights, the tiled floor glistened with a freshly waxed sheen.  Painted block walls displayed the same dismal gray as the holding cell, and the distinct smell of bleach hung in the air.  The chlorine did little to mask the odor of unwashed bodies and co-mingled with the aroma of the most recently-served meal.  Bile rose in her throat and she struggled not to retch.  The same question kept echoing in her head. How could this have happened?  She didn’t belong in this place.

Ogden unlocked yet another steel door and, holding it, motioned for Carrie to enter.  Foggy disbelief clouded her mind, but she did as instructed, waiting for the guard and staring down yet another endless passageway.  The slamming door sliced the silence and made her jump.  At once, the desolate area came to life with a cacophony of catcalls and lewd comments directed at her. Reaching hands stretched through the bars from the confinement of the cells, grabbing at the air as she passed.  She gulped and tried to keep her eyes forward, but found it difficult to ignore the myriad of strange faces that peered between the bars and vied for her attention.  She hunched her shoulders and gripped her prison issue, trying to draw into a ball to avoid being touched.  She had nothing in common with these women.

Run away, run away.   The voice in her head drowned out all other noises and encouraged her to do something she knew wasn’t possible.  Cement, steel doors, and endless hallways stood between her and freedom.  Not one person had believed her when she’d proclaimed her innocence.

With the turn of a key, a single cell swung open, and Ogden shoved Carrie inside.  “Sweet dreams.  If you need anything, just call room service.”  Again, the woman’s taunting guffaw pierced Carrie like a knife.

4. Falling in love while in prison can’t be easy, and is definitely different. What motivated you to toss your main character, Carrie, in jail? What was the most challenging part of using prison as the setting?

I worked as a Correctional Officer for a year after moving here, and everyone in the place claimed to be innocent.  My interactions with inmates provided the impetus for this book, and when Carrie showed up and suggested I tell her story, I couldn’t deny her. It was easy to write about how prison felt, how the food was served, the smells, the chain of command, etc. Of course in romance, you need a hero, and being naïve and inexperienced, it only made sense that she would fall for the first handsome guy who paid her attention.  Oh, and romance in jail flourishes.  The most popular request was, "please, please give so and so this note."  Of course, passing anything between inmates is taboo, so I always politely refused.  I agreed to pass verbal "love notes," but that was it.

5. Jet and Ogden make quite the nasty duo. What was your motivation for these two antagonists? Are they based on anyone you know in real life?

Again, this nasty duo came from all the animosity displayed between guards, inmates and one another during my tenure.  It’s not a happy environment, and as much as it pains me to say this, law enforcement attracts a lot of jerks.  I was married for thirty-two years to a policeman, and thankfully, he wasn’t like the majority of his peers. (Sadly, my ex-hero died in April of this year...I miss him.) I witnessed the same type of bad behavior displayed by the majority of those I worked with..  People with low self esteem make themselves feel better by beating up on those who can’t run away from them.  I’d like to think I’m much more fair minded, and I believe I showed compassion and kindness to those who showed respect to me.  I never viewed the job as a way to take advantage of people, but there were guards who did.  I worked with someone just like Ogden, and if you’ve ever watched movies or TV shows about inmates, you know that every jail has a bully.

6. Carrie learns to stand up for herself in prison. Tell us about a time in your life where you had to develop a thick skin.

Strangely enough, I learned to develop a thick skin when I became an author.  Every book I write is my “baby,” and disparaging words can cut deep if you let them.  It takes time and effort to convince yourself that your work is never going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  I’ve been fortunate…I’ve only been raked over the coals once, and even then, I reminded myself that somewhere in the reviewer’s expectations were positive remarks I could use.

7. Let’s talk about the hero, Seth. If you and Seth went on a date, where would he take you? What would you do or talk about?

Well, that’s a far stretch.  I can’t see handsome Seth with an old bag like me.  I imagine if I twisted his arm enough and played on his sympathy, he might pity me and take me to Taco Bell.  Since he is one of the “good guys,” I imagine we would talk about work and share thoughts on what we think we could contribute to improve the environment. I definitely wouldn’t be his best date ever.

8. I heard you have eleven titles coming out in 2011, is this true? How do you juggle writing and promoting so many stories at once?

I’ll let you know once I master it.  What happened was I wrote several short stories, never expecting to contract them.  Muse It Up Publishing liked what they read, and all of a sudden I have almost a book a month coming out.  I’m doing a blog tour and presenting a different release on each site.  I’m hoping to garner enough interest that people will visit my website, see my videos and admire my beautiful covers and tantalizing blurbs.  (NOTE:  This month marked the final release from Muse It Up).


9. What’s your writing process like? Do you plot and outline or are you a pantser?

Totally a pantser.  Can’t plot to save my life. If I could, I would be able to finish my current WIP and move on, but as a pantser, I have to wait until my characters speak.  Everything except one book I’ve written is character-driven. Sometimes it sucks.  And that one book...The Locket was the hardest thing I've ever written because I had no "tour guide."


10. Tell us a little bit about what’s in store for the future (upcoming releases, etc).
So far, Hurricane Warning, A Wing and a Prayer, White Heart, Lakota Spirit, and Odessa have released along with First Degree Innocence.  March 1, I look forward to Shortcomings, my first attempt at a YA. Oh, and I can’t forget Beside Myself, which is a re-release in an improved format…using all the things I’ve learned over the years to make it better. Then comes:
May 2011 – The Forget-Me-Nots
July 2011 – Masked Love
Sep 2011 – Joy’s Revelation
Nov 2011 – Just The Right Fit


11. Where can our readers find you (website, facebook, etc)?

http://www.gingersimpson.com
http://www.facebook.com/mizging
http://www.twitter.com/mizging


12. Finally, where can we buy a copy of First Degree Innocence?

FDI is offered on Amazon, at Smashwords, by Books We Love , and in print via Createspace.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28751 or https://www.createspace.com/3496548
I also have print copies if anyone wants one personalized.  Yes, people still like autographs and that always amazes me.  Unless my signature is on a check, it's never been considered valuable.  For those who are interest in personalized ebooks, you might want to check out http://www.kindlegraph.com


Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome S.J. Clarke


About This Rumour that Paranormal Fiction is on the Downward Slide
I'm here to confess a great sin. I write paranormal fiction.
I can here the gasps from here.

Why would you paint yourself with that particular brush? What will you do when interest in the paranormal fizzles? Don't you know some artist will come along and create a new, hot trend?

Sure I do. She's already here, blurring the edges, creating something new from something past its prime.  

Demystifying the Paranormal
Should I be worried? Will my chosen genre abandon me as I'm creating my platform as a paranormal writer? I don't have the answers. No one does. But I can narrow down the parameters a bit.

When people hear the word paranormal their minds fill with images of a familiar world, altered from current reality by the existence of vamps, shifters and demons. Quite often these elements describe a sub-genre of paranormal that fall into the category of Urban Fantasy. Urban Fantasy has plenty of monsters, as well as kick-butt heroines intent on taking them out. (Until our heroine comes across a monster that stirs her sympathy along with her hormones and she's attracted to the very aberration she hunts.)

Fighting for humanity's survival takes a toll on a body. It can't endure the fight forever. It's a subtle change at first. Creatures recede into the shadows and tormented souls wreaking vengeance for humanity, instead seek therapy. Can a world without the paranormal be far behind?

Of course not. They're great stories, and I read a lot of Urban Fantasy. But I also read a host of other paranormal tales. Paranormal encompasses so much more than nightmares given life on the page. There's the psychic component as well, and this is the element I use in my stories.

The list of psychic abilities is long, often obscure and difficult to pronounce. Most of us are familiar with common psychic gifts like visions, telepathy and telekinesis, but there's a world of other psychic abilities to explore. Some lesser known skills include clairaudience, bilocation, psychometry, retrocognition, transvection and remote viewing. I'm having a lot of fun right now with the power of remote viewing in my current work in progress.

But is having fun enough to keep your readers reading? Aren't you afraid they'll abandon you for the next go-to genre?

Hidden Dangers in Genre Writing
By writing in a genre category, one risks slapping a label on their work and forever linking their writer's identity with that genre. Can a writer survive with so labelled? Visit any writer's or reader's forum and you'll find both sides of the argument well represented.

Fans derive their name from the word fanatic. They possess an intense interest in the subject matter, yes, but also in the way the story is told. But even a great story premise falls flat with lacklustre writing. Readers crave entertainment while they escape the harsh reality of their lives for the brief time they immerse themselves in a story.  If those needs aren't met, the reader will go elsewhere for their fix. But is it poor craftsmanship, or the promise of a new, hot genre that lures a reader away? Everyone strays to investigate the new and interesting, but fans come back to those who deliver with consistency.

But how will you get away with sticking with a dying genre?

Paint my own picture
Will I write to the masses and change genres to follow  up and coming trends? No. I might include aspects of new trends in my writing, but at their core, my stories will remain paranormal in nature. My first story, written at the age of eight, was a paranormal time-shift. I'm drawn to the genre. It's what I read. It's what I write. It's in my pores.

I'll continue to weave paranormal elements amongst romance, mystery and suspense, mainstream genres that endure the test of time.

I'll paint my word pictures on my canvas. Those readers who share my interest and find my stories entertaining will stick around to see what my brush strokes create next. New trends may feather over the image, altering it slightly, but I will always deliver on my original promise to my readers by providing entertaining escapism with a touch of the paranormal.

My new release, Mind Over Matter, is a paranormal romantic suspense.Rebecca McKenney grieved the loss of her daughter for three years. Now, a vision showing Sabrina three years older, suggests her baby is still alive, and the FBI agent who gave up the search is the only one who can help find her.

Special Agent Dan Cooper is haunted by a tragic mistake made early in the investigation of Sabrina's disappearance. Now to ease his conscience he agrees to help Rebecca search.

Together they fight inner demons, all to real bad guys, and an attraction neither wants to admit to. Each step closer to finding Sabrina is a step deeper into deception and evil.

Can Rebecca and Dan save Sabrina before it's too late?

Here's a short excerpt from Mind Over Matter:

Rebecca swallowed her shame, remembering what happened the last time they were in this room together, the day Dan left. No excuse justified their behavior. Not the two bottles of wine they shared, not the news that the rest of Dan's team were already packed up and gone, and certainly not her grief. Closing her eyes couldn't block the memory of the anger in that first kiss, or the desperation in what followed. Her lack of inhibition in those moments still tormented her, pushing her toward another drink every day since then.
Dan shook his head. He kept his expression neutral, but the clenched jaw gave him away.
“What are you doing here, Rebecca?” He kept his voice low and controlled.
Rebecca squared her shoulders and met his accusing stare. “Whatever it takes to get through each day without my daughter.” She walked over and grabbed the glass from his hand. “This has nothing to do with anything. You're here to help me find Bree, not to judge me.”
He looked at her and the pity on his face pushed her back to the wall.


I love to hear from readers, so please continue the conversation in the comments section, and stay in touch through the links listed below.

Check out my website at: http://sjclarke.com
Friend me on Facebook:
http://on.fb.me/jzcSq4
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/sandrajc
Join me on LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_tab_home_top
Mind Over Matter Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/MindOverMatterbySJClarke

S.J. Clarke

Mind Over Matter buy links:

You can purchase an ebook at my publishers bookstore here: http://bit.ly/s34AsA
You can purchase a print or ebook at Amazon.com here: http://amzn.to/vhQK4Q
You can purchase a print or ebook at Amazon.ca here: http://amzn.to/tts80A
You can purchase an ebook atChapters.ca online: http://bit.ly/sG7Jjq

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welcome Gail Branan


Hey, y’all!  You know, I never knew how much I sounded like Paula Deen until Karen invited me over to her Chaise Lounge!  Bet y’all think we exaggerate and do it on purpose, huh?  Not.  There’s not a Southerner alive whose first words upon greeting friends aren’t “Hey, y’all!”
I’m Southern to the core, you know.  (Com’on, now, in unison – duh!)  Not a lot of evidence of that in my first to be published book, believe it or not – sort of hard to impose Southern over a parallel fantasy world that’s a cross between Camelot and the glory days of Rome when her boundaries reached to the British Isles.   I had more downright fun writing Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights than I’ve ever had writing anything to date, though I’m working on an urban fantasy now that’s been just as much fun.  But my second to be published book?  Get ready, folks.  Welcome to my world.  My real world.  The world of Flowers on the Fence.  The world that holds my heart.  The world of Down Home.
I always like to know the story behind the story and thought maybe y’all would, too.  The story behind Down Home?  Where did Turkey Creek, Rockland County, Georgia come from?  What inspired the characters of Billy Brayton and Maggie Kincaid?  Jack “T-Bone” Jones?  Deputy Sheriff Alec Wimberly?  Big John, Aunt Lulu , Junie Bug, Leola, Joyce, and Jake?   I know the places of Down Home because I live there.  I know the characters of Down Home because I’m part of them and they are part of me.  Oh, they’re not real characters, of course.  Not really.  They’re bits and pieces of here and there, now and then, this and that, mixed and mingled to produce the other. 
Nor are the locations real.  Exactly.  Every small town, southern or not, are microcosms of society, a miniature little world wherein everybody knows everybody else’s business, heritage, secrets, what they had for supper, their usual bedtime.  It’s a patchwork quilt, sewn together into a sturdy fabric, stitched by the sturdy thread of familiarity. 
In that world, everybody knows that Maggie Kincaid hasn’t spoken to her father in twenty-five years, not since she buried Billy Brayton, killed in basic training after trumped up charges of armed robbery engineered by Big John Kincaid railroaded him out of town and into the army.  Everybody’d known something like that was coming because everybody’d known Big John wasn’t going to put up with his daughter keeping time with the local bad boy, not for long.  They figured Maggie and Billy should have known that, too.  But everybody’s missing a few pieces of the puzzle. They’re about to find out that the reports of Billy Brayton’s death have been greatly exaggerated.  He’s home.  And it’s payback time.  Sometimes you can go home again.
I hope y’all come to visit in September when Down Home is officially birthed.  And when you do, I hope you enjoy Billy’s journey back home.  It was a real long one, you see.  It made its first faint murmurs some fifteen years or so ago, and finally surged forth, more or less full-grown, when my son-in-law, a K-9 Deputy Sheriff for my home county, told me a story.  And the story he told me provided the coalescing center, the “missing link”, if you will, that produced the full novel roughly nine months later.  Some cosmic justice in that, don’t you think?  The nine months?  When fully birthed, Down Home’s dedication will read:  “To my son-in-law, Sgt. Jason Smith, K-9 officer, Cobra Crime Suppression Unit, and his fellow deputies of the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Department.  Thanks for the first glimmer of the idea, Twiggs 19!”  (I also picked his brain unmercifully throughout the writing of this novel, for a number of subjects, though any errors made are mine alone and certainly not his.  Oh, yeah.  He earned that dedication.  Big-time.) 
If you’ve got just another minute to try this (unedited) excerpt, I’d really be honored if you’d come see if you think you’ll like it.  Pretty please?
Unedited Excerpt:  Down Home, coming from MuseItUp Publishing, September 2012
The squeal of spinning tires and flying gravel split the night. The patrol cruiser careened down the driveway of the old church, the driver’s terrified eyes never leaving the road in front of him. If he looked in the rear-view mirror he might still see the silhouette of the little girl with banana curls, backlit in windows that should be dark. He could still hear the pounding notes of organ music, though he wasn’t sure if it was real or just echoes trapped in his head.

Brakes screeched as he slowed enough to negotiate a wide turn onto Highway 96. Back on the asphalt he could pretend it had never happened. His hands, still shaking on the wheel, didn’t believe him. He checked the speedometer and eased off the gas. For a moment his foot, lead on the pedal, wouldn’t obey. He wasn’t in shock, but he wasn’t in good shape, either. He reached to his shoulder to hit the send button on his radio phone.

“Rockland 19, back on patrol from property check at Clayton Chapel.”

“10-4 Rockland 19.” Aileen Sanders, the dispatcher on duty, paused and asked, “You okay, 19? You sound kinda funny.”

“Fine. 19 out.” Alec Wimberly felt his heart rate begin to slow. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything, and I’m never gonna see it again. Because I ain’t goin’ back there alone. Ever.

* * * *
On the other side of the County off Highway 80, a hand reached for a ringing phone at 2:00 a.m. The voice that answered was as strong and steady as the hand despite both being over 70 years old. It held no hint of drowsiness, no sign that it had roused immediately and completely from the depths of dream sleep, a rare talent that the owner of that voice treasured. It conveyed the impression that he never slept; that in fact, he had no need of sleep, that he was always cognizant of all that transpired in his domain. It elevated him above the ranks of ordinary men, an intrinsic component of the mystique he carefully cultivated, invaluable in perpetuating the legend of power that surrounded him.

“Tonight’s delivery’s made. It’s done.”

“Went all right? No problems?”
“No problems.” The slight hesitation that preceded the short sentence might as well have been a drum roll.

“What went wrong?”

Damn. The caller mentally cringed. Should have known better.

“Nothing really went wrong. Somebody unexpected showed up, didn’t see anything, though.”

“Who?”

“One of the deputies. Out on night patrol. Ran like a scared rabbit, no big deal.”

“You better hope so. What the hell happened? We’re supposed to know the schedules.”

“We do. Mostly. Can’t always call it down to the minute.”

“’Sposed to be able to. What else we spend the money for, for God’s sakes?”

“There was no problem,” the caller reiterated. “He didn’t see anything.”

“You know which deputy?”

“Yeah.”

“Well?”

“Well, what?” The caller was pushing his luck and he knew it, but he had a soft spot for all the young Rockland deputies.

“Who – the – Hell – was – it and don’t you ever make me ask you something twice.”

“Alec Wimberly.”

“Not one of ours. Could he be, though?”

“Well…. I don’t know, sir.”

“Keep an eye on him.”

“Yes, sir.”

A dial tone sounded in the caller’s ear and he sighed in relief as he hung up the phone. Damn, he hated being on the Boss Man’s bad side. He wasn’t that fond of being on the Boss Man’s good side, either. Had to be an easier way to make a living. Well, hell, he knew there was. Just not this good a living.

 Gail Roughton Branan
Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights, Fantasy Romance.  April, 2012
Down Home, Crime Thriller.  September, 2012
http://flowersonthefence.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Does anyone but me feel like our Sundays are getting closer together?  Anyhow, welcome, or welcome back, as the case may be. Last week, I added a second blog to the roster and I guess I did something wrong as neither were linked. Trying again, today, I'm sharing another six sentences from Embezzled Love, my December release coming from Books We Love.  The last two weeks, I shared an argument between Cassie and Evan, so I'm switching gears.


As tired as she felt, the thought of being in his arms and letting go of the day’s stress did sound inviting. His angular chin, the twinkle in his eyes, the bulge already evident in his jeans…everything about him heightened her craving.
Despite their rollercoaster relationship, the man had changed her life for the better. She’d even stopped taking her anti-depressants and no longer suffered from the horrible black thoughts that once haunted her. She went willingly to him, her heart overflowing with joy that someone loved, desired, and wanted to share a life with her.
After holding her right for a few minutes, Evan pulled back and gazed into her eyes. 

***
Now, head back on over to Six Sentence Sunday's site and follow some of the other links there to find additional engaging sixes.  Yes...I think mine's engaging.  :) 

Welcome, Kathryn Meyer Griffith



WHY I BECAME A WRITER
and other Stuff
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith


Truthfully, what started me off as an author was simply this: As a child, about eight or nine years old (the same time I began to draw pictures in pencil and years before I began to dream about being a singer with my younger brother Jim), I began reading books, science fiction, historical romances and scary books from the library. I had six brothers and sisters and though I had a loving mother and father, a loving family, there was very little money. I can’t say we were poverty poor, but we were poor at times. Sometimes our meals were scarce and we never had extra money for many toys or outside entertainment. I think in my whole young childhood my father only took us out to eat once. Try paying for seven kids and two adults. So we learned to entertain ourselves. Played outside. Climbed trees and hid in deep dirt gullies. Sang, howled really, outside at night on the swing set.
I loved to read. The library books were free and plentiful. I’d sit on my bed, especially during the long summer days and evenings (after chores were done, of course) and read one amazing book after another. If I was lucky, with a chocolate snack or cherry Kool-Aid nearby. Those books, those words on the page, took me away to other places, times and worlds. It was magical. I got lost in people-on-a-spaceship-going–to-some-faraway-planet science fiction books. There was this one horse book when I was a kid that knocked me out, made me cry, and laugh with joy at the end it was so real to me and so full of pathos because I loved horses so much. It was called Smoky. Loved that book. Sigh. I never forgot how those wonderful books made me feel…so free. So adventurous. So rich. Like I could be or do anything someday. And when I grew up I wanted to create that magic myself for others.  So…that’s why I began writing.  And when I get depressed over my writing at times, I remember that.
I remember vividly one day at school (I must have been about 10 or so) when a big box of Weekly Reader books were delivered and we each got to pick one to read. The smell of those new books in that box as I looked at them, the excitement and awe of the other kids over the books and the reverence for those authors, and I thought: Wouldn’t it be something if someday a box of these books were mine…written by me? Oh, to be an author. People respect an author. It was the beginning.
Then there’s also a second part to the question: Why do I keep writing after 39 years? Because I can’t not write. I can’t stop. The stories take over my heart and mind and demand to come out. It’s sort of like birthing a baby (I have one real son and two grandchildren myself). You carry them for a while, a short or long time span, and then once they’re born (published) they go on to be their own individual entities that sometimes continue to amuse and amaze you. Or disappoint you. Whatever.

This is what it’s like to be a published author.
It’s not like anything you would imagine. There’s excitement, the passion and feeling of being right with the world, as the story is being created and the words are tumbling out into the computer; there’s the exhaustion of writing hours and hours, the doubt that your words will mean anything to anyone and why am I doing this? that creeps in but that you have to chase away; there’s the pride in seeing the finished book, either e-book or print, and finally there’s the feeling of unexplainable happiness when someone says they read it and liked/loved it. The best response I love to hear is: I couldn’t put it down. The characters were all so real. I got carried away with it. Didn’t want to leave the world you’d created. Wow. That makes the sometimes low pay and grueling hard work all worthwhile. Because writing is hard work. The creating and promoting anyway. Hour and hour, day after day, year after year. It’s your life you’re using up. Precious time. You have to truly love it to give all that up…to strangers.

Sometimes people ask me: is it still fun?
Fun? A strange way to put it. Sometimes, rarely, it’s fun. Mostly it’s hard work and lots of solitary time alone. Writers live so much of their life in their make believe worlds they get lonely. Lonely for the real world, real breathing people and adventures. I know I do. But the writing won’t leave me alone until I write down the words, tell the tale. The easiest way I can put it is when I’m writing or dealing with my writing I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. Yes, I believe a writer is born to write – like an artist is born to paint and draw; a musician to write or play music. As an artist myself I know I’m not really happy, or fulfilled feeling, unless I’m writing, drawing or singing. Creating. Though the singing and the artwork have gone more by the wayside as I’ve become older…writing mostly takes all my free time now.  Yes, writing does make me happy. Grin. Except the rare times someone hates one of my books…and that happens, too. I’ve finally learned that reading and loving a book or short story is subjective. Some people love my stories, get them, and others…don’t. And that’s okay. We’re all different people.  That’s a lesson a writer must learn. One person’s criticism is not a blanket criticism of all your work or even that one work, it’s just one person’s opinion.

Is it lucrative? That’s a loaded question and (though I don’t know why) most writers will not talk about how much they make or a book makes. Maybe (this is just my theory) it’s because most of us make so little it embarrasses us. There’s no way we could ever live on it. It’s icing on the cake. Trim on the woodwork. The mid-level writers anyway. The top (very rare) writers like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and many other writers (especially some romance authors) make a very good living, but most writers don’t. Ever. Oh, in my heyday in the 1980’s and early 1990’s I made fairly good money with Leisure and Zebra paperbacks (and though at the time I didn’t think it was good, comparing it with now, well, it really was good) , because back then the distribution and print runs were so large. I got a smaller percent in royalties but there were more books out there selling for me. So far the e-books and PODs (Print on Demand) aren’t selling that well, but I get a much larger percentage.  I’m hoping in the next year by having all my old 10 novels out again (rereleased between June 2010 and July 2012) and 2 new books I’ll see a gradual increase in income. It’s an experiment, sort of.  Selling a small quantity each 3 months of 12 or more books might add up to a nice sum. Or so I’m hoping. I’m marketing (a whole new thing in the Internet world these days) a lot, seeking and getting great 4 and 5 star reviews, joining reader and writer loops, guest blogging, etc.  It’s never ending. Thing is I don’t know how much it all helps. Eventually, I figure, I’ll find out. I’m an optimist always.

Do I still enjoy writing? Sure. I love it. It’s like breathing, eating, dreaming. It’s become part of me. Second nature. It took me 39 years to say: I’m a writer. And really feel like I wasn’t being a pretentious so-and-so or outright lying. Took me all that time and 14 published books, 7 short stories (and more to come hopefully) for me to feel deserving of the title.  Even without the money telling stories is what makes me feel…complete. Happy. Hey, look at me I’m a storyteller! Ha, ha, now I just have to figure out a way to make it more profitable, as well. Working on that. As one successful writer recently said to me: Just get the books out there…nothing else matters. (Presumably good books, I’d add.)  The rest will come. Gosh, I sure hope he’s right. Cause I’m been working soooo hard.

Written by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith this sultry August 24th day of 2011   rdgriff@htc.net


A word about Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
       
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
  Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in August 2011)
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in September 2011)
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella and bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out again from Eternal Press in January 2012)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Out from Damnation Books June 2010)
The Woman in Crimson (Out from Damnation Books September 2010)

My Websites:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http://www.jacketflap.com/K.Griffith
http://www.shoutlife.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kathrynmeyergriffith
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Welcome Margaret Fieland


Writing in Another Voice

As a poet, I tend to return to the same subjects over and over, notably family, relationships, and to a lesser extent, the landscape around me. In spite of the fact that these subjects are near and dear to my heart, some recent experiences have shown me that I care about, and am capable of writing poetry about, much more.

Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) as well as a chapbook challenge that involved writing a poem every day through the month of November. Because I wanted to tie the two together, I invented a poet as part of the novel and wrote the poems in his voice.

The novel is a tween sci fi, and I wanted to bring out the spiritual values of the aliens, and so my poet's work was intended to be one of their sacred texts and contained a fair number of prayers, affirmations, and poems that spoke to the society's values. I found myself slipping into my imaginary poet's head,  and despite the fact that I don't usually write spiritual or religious poetry, these works flowed easily, and I had no difficulty either deciding on the subject matter or in expressing what I felt would be my poet's values. I ended up with thirty poems, thirty poems about subject matter I cared about deeply, but which, if not for the novel, it would never have occurred me to write about.

This year, I'm again participating in Nano, and I've again created a poet, this time a Terran (human) poet, and this time, also, I find myself slipping easily into my created persona, and again, writing about subject matter that I would not normally take up. Constance, my imaginary poet, it appears, is far more political than I. She has written a number of poems that speak to the chaotic political situation of her time, a hundred years before my novel begins, and about a hundred years in our future.

As a poet, I am always striving to extend myself, both in terms of what and how I write my poems. Imagining myself a different person has proven to be a way to do that.

Here are two of Constance Trusdatter's poems:

Corrupt Government

Broken promise, broken dreams,
fall to politician's schemes.

Wish for power, wish for might,
wave a flag and say all's right.

If the people ask for more,
find a way to start a war.

Let the trouble be distraction
from unsatisfying action,

poverty and hunger, too,
to obfuscate what's real and  true.


We seek a place of safety,
a shelter from turmoil that surrounds us,
where we may build our ships,
recover from our  wounds.

Despair descends like a smothering blanket,
heavy, wet. We breathe in smoke
when we need oxygen.
Ash clogs our lungs.

Gangs roam the plains.
They burn our crops,
steal our horses,
rape our women and murder our children.

Where can we find our leaders?
They cower in a dark hole,
 creep away under dark clouds.,
never to be seen again.

A new age will rise
from the smoking coals
of what was once
our country,

paid for with blood
of our brothers.



Margaret Fieland  is one of six Poetic Muselings. Their recently releasesd poetry anthology, Lifelines,  published by Inkspotter Publishing, is available from Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/bq4vwz6
She can be found on her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com, or with the other Poetic Muselings, at http://poetic-muselings.net

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Welcome, Dianne Hartsock


Quinn’s Thanksgiving



Happy Thanksgiving! Come on in. You’re right on time. The Family’s just sitting down to dinner. I’m sorry Liam’s not here to greet you. Running late, as usual.

Pull up a chair. Wine? Hot cider? I wish I could offer you some of this fabulous meal, but that’s more Liam’s forte. I’m afraid my ghostly abilities are limited to creating blurry orbs that people assume are dust specks rather than auras caused by me.

Doesn’t that turkey look delicious! Oh, cranberry and apple relish, mashed potatoes and gravy. Wish I could smell the fresh bread. And I think there’s an apple pie baking for later.

Liam better hurry or we’ll miss the whole feast. He can take you right into the room. Being a specter has its limits on me. I’ll have to stay here on the fringes, though with Liam present the colors will be sharper. I’ll be able to smell everything and practically taste the golden turkey on my tongue. Oh, no. Margaret just took the last bite of the sweet potatoes. That’s my favorite!

Who’s Margaret? Guess I should introduce everyone. This is Liam’s family, by the way. My folks are all back east buried in ten feet of snow from the last storm. That’s Liam’s brother-in-law, Andrew, at the head of the table. Next to him is his wife Sarah, Liam’s oldest sister.

The greedy little girl is their daughter. Oh, she sees us! Hi, Margaret. She’s the most gifted one in this amazing family. The beautiful woman at the end of the table is Liam’s twin, Becca. But you probably guessed that. She has the same black silky hair and incredible blue eyes as Liam…so lovely. Liam’s parents died in a car accident about five years ago. Maybe that’s why he’s so reluctant to let me move on. I don’t mind. I’ll stay around until he can bring himself to let me go.

Well, why we’re waiting, here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes. You should give them a try! Very yummy.

Cashew-Peach Sweet Potato Recipe
-taste of home

Ingredients
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) sliced peaches, drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter
Directions
  • Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 30-45 minutes or just until tender. Drain and cool slightly; peel and cut into cubes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cashews, salt and ginger. Place half of the sweet potatoes in an ungreased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish; top with half of the peaches and brown sugar mixture. Repeat layers; dot with butter.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly and heated through. Yield: 10 servings.

Oh, there’s Liam now. Hi, darling. What? You want everyone to sit at the table? Oh, the family can see you now! How wonderful. Don’t be surprised by their cheerful welcome. Liam’s always popping in with people. Nothing startles them any more

Well, I think I’ll take a walk while you all eat this delicious meal. Enjoy yourselves. Thanks for stopping by and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Trials of a Lonely Specter
MuseItUp Publishing: http://bit.ly/rhfkBG

 Blurb:

There’s been an accident. Quinn believes he’s dead, though Liam insists otherwise. But if that is the case, why does Quinn see the two of them as ghosts? And why does Liam play along? Exposed to mediums and apparitions, Quinn has to make a decision: either accept his fate or risk everything to trust Liam one more time.







Excerpt:
 Quinn frowned at the crumbling gate house of the manor, unsure of why Liam had brought him there. Then again, he shouldn’t be surprised by anything his partner did.
“Let’s go in.”
Quinn hushed the voice in his head. “I’m thinking.”
He jumped slightly when Liam materialized at his side. He tried to hold onto his annoyance but couldn’t stay mad for long when the other grinned in that attractive way. The man threw an arm across his shoulders, waving a languid hand at the decrepit building. “Can’t you make up your mind inside? It’s getting dark.”
Quinn glanced behind them at the lonely driveway. He shivered when he saw the shadows creeping from under the trees. Shrubs overran the flowerbeds and weeds grew between the closely fitted flagstones of the walkway. He couldn’t understand why Liam always had to choose the scariest places to haunt.
“It’ll be darker inside,” he hinted to the apparition.
“No.”
Liam slid his arm from his shoulders and sauntered up to the wooden door sagging on its hinges. He wiggled his fingers and a bluish light filled the house, spilling out from between the slats of the broken shutters.
“Show-off,” Quinn muttered as he joined him at the front entrance. The door felt solid under his hands.  He gave it a nudge, testing its stability.
Watching him, Liam put his chin on his shoulder. “Give it a shove.”
“Why don’t you?”
He regretted the words instantly when Liam’s eyes flashed.
“I’m sorry. Don’t be mad,” he said, but Liam had glanced aside, hiding his expression. Quinn felt like a brute, knowing his friend’s manifestation had no substance. He took out his frustration on the door, putting a shoulder to it. He pushed, and stumbled across the threshold when the ancient latch unexpectedly gave way. Dust filled the air and he sneezed several times.
Liam swept passed him, his skin luminescent in the pulsing blue light he’d created. Quinn watched enviously as he crossed the hallway and glided up the swaying staircase. His own efforts to get an aura only resulted in dim blobs that people dismissed as figments of their imagination.
His friend’s glowing figure disappeared through the door at the top of the landing, and he hurried after him. His foot caught on a loose board as he entered the room and his dignity was bruised as he sprawled on his face. Liam’s amused laughter did nothing to help.
He climbed to his feet and stalked towards a mirror, the only item of furniture in the room propped against the wall.  He scowled at the mottled surface. “May I go home now?”
Liam appeared in the mirror and Quinn stared at the man’s reflection. The same old questions raced around in his head. They were hard to ask with Liam’s mocking eyes on him. He swallowed nervously. “Am I a vampire?”
The unique eyes blinked, and then a grin flashed over the attractive face watching him. “Why do you ask that?”
Quinn gestured to the mirror. “I don’t see my reflection next to yours. I never do.”
Liam shrugged indifferently. “Your point?”
“I…” Quinn bit his lip, knowing it was now or never. “Were we ever alive?”
“Obviously.”
“Damn it, Liam! Why don’t I have a reflection?”
“You do. You choose not to see it. Maybe you don’t believe you’re really dead.”

Dianne Hartsock

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