Lyndi goes a-visiting…

That Book Place in Madison, Indiana is hosting its Author’s Fair in two weeks–read about it here!

How can we connect to a place in our reading and writing?

I’m featured today at the blog of Calisa Rhose, talking about the importance of a sense of place, and the importance of using your senses to entrench yourself IN that place by description and connection. We talk a bit about Montana, home to the Clan Elves, and there’s an excerpt from the latest release, THE ELF MAGE!

SFFS snippet for Feb. 25–

This snippet is from the second book in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, The Elf Child, published by Dragonfly Publishing, Inc., available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the usual sources.

Jelani Marsh, a young woman who finds a glass slipper on the sidewalk, steps in it, and it breaks, cutting her foot and releasing dozens of small men that vanish into the shadows. Her journey to discover the mystery of her past unravels in The Elf Queen, continues in The Elf Child, where she suddenly finds herself sick for an unknown reason. In the emergency room, she’s told what’s the likely cause. But not everyone believes it:

The curtain flew open with a screech of metal rings against metal rod, and Lane himself stood there, his extra-large presence seeming to fill the room. Apparently out of breath from his swift jaunt through the emergency treatment area, he leaned on the rack at the end of the bed. “But you’re a mule!” he gasped.
Astan rose again to his feet, clearly taking umbrage with Lane’s tone. “And you’re an ass.”
Lane rolled his eyes. “Lighten up, pal. I mean, she’s a hybrid. Half elf, half human. Mules are half horse, half donkey. But mules don’t usually reproduce. It’s their genetic makeup, they’ve got an odd number of chromosomes or something, so even though a horse has 64 and a donkey has 62, a creature with 63 can’t breed.”

Interested? Find other snippets from the series here and here. Learn more here at this website, or at

Check out the other snippets from science fiction and fantasy authors for this Saturday!

SFFS snippet for Feb. 18! The Elf Mage…where magic and WoW collide!

This is a snippet from my new book The Elf Mage, the third book in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, published by, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the usual sources.

Lane Donatelli, a World of Warcraft addict and child abuse survivor, has a laptop that has been infused with magic by little Max, an albino elf of the Montana clan. When his elf friends are threatened by a Big Bad in the forest, Lane resolves to use his online skills, if he can. It happens in a way he never anticipated….

He was on his feet in a moment and the two of them followed Max into the living room. There, in the center of the small space, stood a seven-foot tall green Orc with every one of those teeth he’d warned Max about. “Sweet Jesus,” Lane said.
Just then, the bathroom door opened and Crispy walked out, wrapped in his thick blue terry bathrobe that covered him from throat to ankles. When he saw what was between him and Lane, he stared, his eyebrow snaking up in annoyance.
“Don’t worry, Crisp,” Lane said, but the words didn’t come out in his voice, from his mouth, but instead, they came from Xiomar, in a deep booming voice that reverberated off the walls.
“Really? Smelly green monsters? I’m not cleaning it up when he poops on the floor.” Crispy turned around and walked to the bedroom and closed the door behind him.

Find more snippets from other wonderful authors at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday!

Valentine’s Day for the unusual couple–a challenge worth overcoming

Lyndi visits the Paranormal Freebies blog today to discuss the difficulties of loving someone who’s of another kind.Did you ever wonder how those shapeshifters manage to match up tab A with slot B? Is it good to be a Greek god? Come see how she explains love between the species, for a paranormal Valentines Day post– leave a comment, and you could win a free ebook of The Elf Queen!

Five-star review for THE ELF MAGE at Amazon!

From author Jane Nixon White:
Newly released in e-book format, The Elf Mage, third book in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series by Lyndi Alexander, is the best yet! In the tradition of Brian Mull, this fantasy about elves and their interaction with humans, both positive and negative, will delight young adult readers and adults as well. I loved it! The characters are strong and realistic, the action pulling the reader in, eager for more. How long will I have to wait for the next one?

THE ELF MAGE is out!

The day finally arrives where book three of the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series is out. Hurrah! Anyone who’s been waiting to see what happened to the young prince can check it out at the publisher’s site or at Amazon today, for ebooks. (Paperbacks take a little longer to upload through the system but should be available in the next week or so.) Here’s the blurb:

Daven Talvi made a choice a quarter-century ago to serve the Bitterroot Elf Clan, allowing the Circle of Elders to send him into suspended animation until the queen could be rescued. In doing so, he gave up his mate and his newborn son, sacrificing his own life for that of the clan. It had been a mistake. With the clan now in chaos and the new young queen in hiding, Daven must acknowledge his own errors and take responsibility to set things right. He teams up with Lane Donatelli, a human who has too long used food and computer gaming to feed his own insecurities. Together, they use Lane’s technology with Daven’s innate magical abilities to wage battle against the evil elf mages threatening the clan.

It’s an exciting ride– fasten your seatbelt and come along!

An untraditional path to writing leads Red Tash to write unconventional and fascinating books

Thanks to RED TASH for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc. Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?

Thanks so much for having me, first of all. I am filled with appreciation for your interest in my work, and for this chance to reach your readers.

Red Tash is my pen name. I chose to write fiction under this name because my real name is misspelled more often than not. In my other life, I am an extremely happily married lady, mother of four, and I was a working journalist until I took maternity leave in March of 2010, when my youngest baby was born. My husband Tim highly encouraged me to seize the opportunity to try out this “Amazon KDP thing” and give publishing my old manuscript a try.

I guess because I have such a history with marketing and PR and journalism, it’s been a joy promoting my book, but WOW, what a full-time job it has become!

You asked about coffee—YES, indeed. I used to write in coffee houses, then I got a Keurig at home, and now I’m a two cup a day addict. I just love it so much. I made the protagonist in This Brilliant Darkness a java junkie, as well. It figures prominently into the story, and I found a lovely gal to do some sweet “coffee” promo shots for the book, as well:

In the book, she keeps getting messages “from beyond” in odd places, so I thought “Why not in the foam of her coffee?” Look closer, and you’ll see the answers to the crossword puzzle are from the book, as well.

You asked about education. I was one of many frustrated creatives who let an overbearing parent predict that writing was something I’d never make money at. Since I have always had excellent scholastic aptitude, I was able to study any subject I wanted—except for the one I truly wanted. I only took the minimum of writing courses in college, including poetry—and although I continued to receive awards for my writing, even then, I was still told constantly by someone I trusted that I could never earn a living doing what I do best. So…I got my degree in accounting, instead. I know, right? Ugh.

The good news is, the business degree has served me well as an entrepreneur, and business writing for magazines and business journals, as I experimented with what direction I wanted to take my writing career.

One thing I did invest in, in terms of writing education, was a thorough tour of the writing conference experience. I attended several, and I met a variety of authors, agents, publishers, and fellow writers. I also took part in critique groups, both at conferences and independently. My work was pounded and shaped and remarked upon ad nauseam, and eventually, instead of walking away with a lovely framed certificate, I walked away with a focus, and a direction. I experimented with that vision by testing out stories and techniques for various audiences, including in blogs, in a newspaper column, in podcasts, and in videos. It had the cumulative effect of helping me find my “voice.”

So, no, I don’t think you need a diploma to be a writer. I do think that there are many writers who improve their skills by getting an education, but the actual practice of writing with the intention of performing, entertaining, educating, inciting, etc—that was the thing that really taught me best how to tell a good story.

My brother-in-law is a professional singer. He went to college for some training, but that’s not why he’s a talented tenor. We just each have to recognize our gifts, and then do the best with them that we can. Academia, as much as I appreciate it, doesn’t turn us into writers or singers, dancers or painters. Take it or leave it, but education is not a shortcut to writing success, nor is the lack of education an excuse not to pursue your dreams.

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Well,I’ve just released the paperback version of This Brilliant Darkness. It was quite fun to put together, actually. I started laying out books on the computer while in high school. In college, I worked for a newsletter company and continued my page layout skills. As the owner of a photography business and marketing professional, I’ve been laying out pages and graphic design for ages. It was so fun to finally be assembling my own manuscript for print!

The only thing more fun that I can imagine, would be signing a big publishing contract and getting those hard copies in the mail for the first time.

This Brilliant Darkness is a very different story. I wasn’t sure how to classify it, honestly, but eventually settled on “dark fantasy.” It’s fast, different, funny, and it’s not dumbed down whatsoever. I’m extremely proud of it, and the reception it has received from readers.

What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

The inspiration for This Brilliant Darkness came from almost everywhere, it seemed. I think because it was my first book, I hadtrouble filtering out a lot of good ideas—and thusly, the first draft became bloated with details and ideas and witticisms. Editing much of that out was painful, but eventually I cut it down to just the parts that move the story along.

Much of the stuff that got cut were the really interesting bits about string theory, quantum physics, time travel, wormholes…as it stands, someone who knows a little about these things will recognize the science in the book, but gone are the chapters that were turning it into a Carl Sagan book!

The main inspiration for the book was Indiana University’s campus and the city of Bloomington. There is a small wood in the oldest part of campus, probably about 15 acres or so. It’s criss-crossed with brick-lined paths, beneath dense trees, and even though I have a great sense of direction, I always seemed to feel lost, trudging through it. I also always wanted to go back and walk every path, just explore those paths until I knew it like the back of my hand. I went and spent a week on campus, and ended in including locations from much of the original campus area, and the popular Kirkwood Street that runs between campus and downtown Bloomington.

While I was in the process of editing the book, I also took a trip to the Abbey of Gethsemani in rural Kentucky. Next thing you know, I’ve got a mystical monk as a major character, and there was no shaking him. The book felt like a kind of magnet, drawing characters and settings from all over. I have this huge binder filled with post-it notes, photos, newspaper clippings—it all fed into the book.

It was a lot to manage, but it’s paid off with the fantastic reviews, and I hope it’ll be helpful in the coming weeks when I get into the business of writing the sequel.

How would you best describe your books?

Well,I just finished my second book, Troll or Derby. It’ll be heading into edit/formatting stage soon, and can’t wait to hear what my beta-readers think.

Those are my only two books so far. When I think about them as a generalized body of work (which is tough, since there are only two), I think of them as dark and funny, with an underlying sense of optimism. My characters do not necessarily always find a “happily ever after,” and topics like romance and good vs. evil are anything but pat—so readers consistently tell me they are surprised.

On This Brilliant Darkness, I found a discussion between readers online wherein one man called it “… kinda like marshmallows and mustard, a little out of the ordinary but quite good…very well-written.” I try to warn people that This Brilliant Darkness is weird, but that if you like weird, you will love it. Readers say it always makes them think, often for weeks after having read the book. To me, that’s just the biggest compliment.

Troll or Derby is my next book. It’s much lighter, not as complex (it’s not a thriller, in my opinion, although there’s a tense climax, of course). It’s a rollicking adventure through everything we love to hate and have to love about life in the Midwest. Monster trucks, hair bands, flea markets, meth labs, Bingo halls, fairies, trolls, and roller derby, all rolled into one. It’s a book for kids that adults will relish, I think, as light reading. But, we’ll see—the proof will be in the reviews, I’m sure!

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I enjoyed both adult dark fantasy as well as YA fantasy, the most! I had non-fiction projects lined up to writenext, but I think I’m going to go ahead and just write the sequel to This Brilliant Darkness, then the sequel to Troll or Derby, and if I’m lucky, the wild fiction ideas will keep coming! I really enjoy being creatively strange, satirical, and non-stop over-the-top, in turns.

As far as reading goes, I gravitate toward the fast paced YA fantasy, but I will read anything that interests me, and I think it’s silly to get hung up reading one genre of book, just like listening to one genre of music, or eating one kind of food for dinner every night. You’ve got to mix things up a bit. I am very active on Goodreads and I draw my recommendations from friends there, as well as from my Readerly Friends group on Facebook.

What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?

I’m already doing that, praise God. I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I might someday return to journalism, and I do hope to eventually finish my memoir and a book based on my old newspaper column, but for right now, I’m so happy writing novels about fairies and monsters.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I love when a new idea comes to me mid-stream. I think I’m sitting down (or standing up—I type standing up, a lot) to write a scene about X, when idea Y forces itself into the mix, and the result is a chaotic explosion of energy on the page. That, to me, feels better than most anything I’ve ever done.

What I don’t like? I don’t like that I only seem to be good for one chapter a day. I wish I could write several, back-to-back. There are people writing a book a month right now. I can’t do that. I wish I could. I just don’t have that kind of sustained creative energy. It comes in one big burst and then I’m spent.

My first novella was hand-written in a notebook when I was in elementary school,so I suppose I knew then what I wanted to be someday. I was just told repeatedly that it was impossible. I won’t be doing that same disservice to my kiddos!

Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published?How many books did you write before selling one?

Because of the changing landscape of publishing, right now I’m not looking for an agent or a publisher, actively. I might try again when edits are finished for Troll or Derby. I just knew from being a marketing person,and studying the market, that This Brilliant Darkness had little in common with the best-sellers on the rack in the grocery store—and most agents were looking for their ticket, the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King or JK Rowling. I’ve always felt I had the capacity to becommercially successful, but my first book definitely did not shape itself out to be the next Harry Potter. Publishing it myself on KDP has been extremely rewarding. Troll or Derby is going to prove to be much more commercially viable, so I really haven’t decided yet which way I’m going to try to place it. I love that we live and work in a climate, though, where you can actually choose—do I want to go the traditional publishing route, or do I want to do this one myself?

How did you receive the Call?

At a writing conference, the wonderful author and writing professor Heather Sellers asked me if I had spent a lot of time playing alone, as a child. At first I was afraid to answer honestly, but then I confessed that yes, I had. She said she could tell. She said that was why I was a writer. I was left alone,out-of-doors, to fend for myself for hours, on a mini-farm in the country. I became Laura Ingalls, a cast-away, many other characters. According to her theory, that storytelling impulse was born in me because I needed to entertain myself in an otherwise lonely, boring life.

I think of The Call as a voice you can’t ignore, and I guess I didn’t really feel it overwhelming me and pushing me to achieve my fiction goals until about seven or eight years ago. Until then, I’d been able to push it aside for things that I’d been encouraged to be “successful” at. But here I am, finally doing my thing, and it feels terrific.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

I love the reader reaction, and I’m looking forward to getting the sequel mapped out. I lived with the characters Christine, Greachin, Tom, Richard, and lesser characters for years, and they truly became like friends. The sequel will involve a much-referenced fictionalized pop culture reference from the first book, heavily, and I have looked forward for years to writing his parts in the story! It should be exciting.

What would you like to tell readers?

Right now, I’d like to say, look—don’t be afraid to try ebooks, and don’t think you have to give up paperbooks, if you do. We’re always going to require printed reading material for the beach and the bathtub, and for so many other reasons. I love bookstores, and I love books. Hey, the whole purpose of this interview is to announce the release of This Brilliant Darkness in paperback, right? But at the same time, we are experiencing a true explosion, in the ebook phenomenon. There are a lot of really amazing reads out there, waiting to be discovered—more than ever. Thanks to the popularization of the ereader, there are millions more books released every year than there were just a couple of years ago. It can be a little overwhelming, but stick to the books with the great reviews, stick to Goodreads or reading groups like my Readerly Friends group, and you’ll find lots of great stuff to try. Don’t be afraid to try something new, whether that’s a new author, a new genre, or a new readingdevice.

To buy This Brilliant Darkness click here.

My blog:

For a signed copy, video reviews, a color map of the Bloomington setting & more:


A twist of fairy tales: one wolf’s story

Thanks to Jessica Aspen for being with us today. Jessica and I met on a mountaintop just over a year ago at a fabulous workshop taught by Margie Lawson. We’ve both been finding new stories–and successes–ever since.
First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.

Thanks for having me as your guest, Lyndi, I’m excited to be here. My family, Molly the lab mix, Ivy the disgruntled cat, and I live outside Boulder, Colorado where we get to see the gorgeous Rocky Mountains every day.

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Little Red Riding Wolf is the story of Red. Tired of being the runt of the litter, feisty Red jumps on the opportunity to take on the new forest ranger, but when Evan uncovers evidence of wolves in Radon, Colorado, things get out of control. Can Red keep her were-wolf identity secret and still save Evan from her brother’s thirst for blood?

What inspired you to write this story?

I had the opportunity to write a twisted fairy tale novella for a publishers contest. Since I already love twisted fairy tales and had written another one, I decided to flip the classic Little Red Riding Hood. I took the story and made it more adult and placed it in a modern setting. That publisher was interested in more traditional settings, so I submitted it to Passion in Print instead and it found a home.

How would you best describe your projects/books?

My books are full of action and strong characters. I love showing who people are through snappy dialogue. While my books are a little on the dark side there is still a note of humor that threads throughout.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I read almost anything. I love romance (of course) but I also love fantasy and mystery as well. I think that’s why I write paranormal, urban fantasy and even have a half-finished suspense tucked away for the future.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?

I guess I already write what I want to write. I’m not sure why anyone would write anything they didn’t like. I love paranormal and I’m having fun writing it, so I expect to continue. But I think I might move into the YA branch at some point. I have lots of ideas that would fit that genre better than what I’m writing now. And I enjoy reading YA, so why not write it?

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Like most authors I love writing when it flows. When it comes easily it’s a joy and on the days when it feels like every word is a struggle, I get frustrated. But even on those days I know that this is what I want to be doing. I’ve wanted to be an author since I can remember. At about three years old I decided that I wanted to be a mom. Then and artist and then I finally learned to read and it grew into an author. I’ve tried other artistic mediums, but I have to say, I’m leaving the art thing to my sister. Writing is for me!

Tell us a little about your path to publication. What has helped you most along the way ? What have you published to date? How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?

Little Red Riding Wolf is my first published work, but it certainly isn’t my first completed manuscript. It’s another twisted fairy tale, but it has elves and gypsy witches and an entirely different setting. Who knows? It might make it to publication too. I started seriously writing four years ago and took two years to finish the first novel. I started shopping it around and realized, I needed more classes. The next year I spend educating myself on romances and the art of writing romances. Little Red Riding Wolf came soon after, as well as another novella and a second novel. Both of those are about werewolves, but they aren’t fairy tales. They’re darker with more suspense.

How did you find a publisher? How did you receive the Call?

I attended a mini-conference where Laura Baumbach of Passion in Print was speaking and taking pitches. I’d pitched before to other editors and agents and actually didn’t intend to pitch that day. Before I knew it my friends had talked me into it and she was interested so I sent it out the next week. Within a few days I had an email containing a contract and my head was spinning.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

I like the hero and heroine in this story, quite a bit. Red is spunky and wants to expand out of her narrow existence, but doing so will hurt her family. Evan has been a loner in search of a place to belong all his life and when he meets Red he knows he’s finally found home. Unfortunately for him he isn’t a werewolf so she can’t possibly fit him into her life. Their story has a definite Romeo and Juliet theme underlying the fairy tale and modern paranormal setting.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

The only personal appearance I have planed is to read at the Denver Lady Jane Salon in March. You can find information on live romance readings at . I’m still working on twisting fairy tales and the town of Radon in this story has provided a wealth of possibilities. I’m in the process of seeing what Goldilocks may be up to if she lived in a town full of werewolves. I am also continuing to work on my elves and witches and dark werewolf stories and as soon as I have news I’ll be announcing it on my site

What would you like to tell readers?

Just to keep reading what they like. For the first time in history the internet has made publishing responsive to the readers. Readers are in the driver’s seat, buying from small presses and making their interests known. Keep up the good work!

Jessica Aspen
paranormal author

Dare to enter my world…and discover your imagination.

Meet Edward Eaton, creator of Rosi’s Castle

Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc. Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?

Well, my name is Edward Eaton. Call me Ted, please. I have just published a young adult book titled Rosis’ Castle. In my real life, I am an itinerant college teacher. I teach, English, Theatre, and History. I have taught other subjects as well. Philosophy was fun. Psychology was not. My degrees are in Theatre, but I learned quickly that every student in the United States is required to take English Comp. Few are required to take Intro to Theatre. I would rather teach English than not teach Theatre. If you want more information about that, check out my website:

I live in Boston. I grew up in West Virginia, was born in North Carolina, and come from generations of southerners. I consider myself a southerner. I certainly do not consider myself a Yankee. Of course, in Boston, ‘Yankee’ is considered a swear word, so I fit right in.

I have a wife. Silviya is a hospital administrator. I have a son. Christopher is seven and a nut, but I like him. Silviya is one of my best readers. She is supportive, yet critical. She will not let me get away from plot holes. Nor will she let me get away with overly casual language or linguistic or grammatical shortcuts (it helps that she is not a native English speaker).

My biggest problem as a writer is that I am easily distracted. I can listen to music when I am plotting and working out issues in my head, but I cannot when I am drafting. I cannot write with the TV on. I watched an episode of The Simpsons recently in which Lisa decides to write a book. She spends all of her time straightening her desk, buying lattes, and sharpening her pencils—and gets no writing done. That is me. I have to treat writing like a job. I have to get rid of all the distractions and write. If I can do that, I write fairly quickly. I am at the point that I am trying not to read anything new so that I do not get too caught up with a story and avoid writing. This, of course, allows me to reread some of my favorites. Recently, I reread Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I just started, for the umpteenth time, The Lord of the Rings.

My education: My BA, from the University of Richmond, a good southern school, was in directing and playwriting. My MA and PhD, Bowling Green State University, are in Theatre History and Literature. Janet, my editor, keeps reminding me that I am not writing a play, but a novel. I want to set the scene and give exposition in dialogue. Some of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes are in the plays to establish something fairly simple like the weather and have no real bearing on the story or character development. Why shouldn’t I steal from the best? However, prose is not dramatic writing. Janet and Terri (my publisher) are constantly pointing out whole pages of dialogue that could be condensed into a few paragraphs of narrative with the same effect. Much of the writing I have been doing recently other that the Rosi books is dramatic writing.

Tell us about your most recent publication?

Rosi’s Castle is my new book.

The publisher’s blurb is: Orphaned, Rosi Carol is sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Richard in his eerie castle on the New England coast. Rosi feels even more of an outcast when she discovers the townspeople believe the Carol family has some sort of magical hold over New Richmond. Even her new friends are afraid of her.

She soon discovers there may be some truth to the rumors. For one thing, the castle seems to have a mind of its own with lights turning off and on and doors locking and unlocking with no one in sight. Then there’s a strange dark cloud that has been dogging her since the train station, while the ghosts of the Widows from New Richmond’s past blame Rosi for their husbands never returning from the sea.

Her only allies are a Girl in Black (gone as suddenly as she appears) and Jesse (a paranormal reporter no one else can see). Can Rosi discover what the Widows want? What about the Girl in Black? Can Jesse help her find the answers or is he another big mystery? And why can’t her watch keep proper time?

I have been playing with the blurb for my own marketing purposes. It has changed somewhat:

Rosi Carol is a 15-year-old girl who is forced to move to New England after the disappearance of her father. When she arrives in her new home, she discovers that it is haunted. She is even more surprised to find out that she is the one haunting it. She sets out on a journey to discover a curse that has plagued her family for centuries.

I came up with this idea a few years ago. I was working on early outlines of another piece that was supposed to be a YA series but was fast becoming a not-so-YA series (and is still in the outlining stage). I wanted to work on something that would start out YA and evolve into slightly older YA (I’m not sure if there is an industry term for that). I came with the germ of a character who would eventually become Rosi Carol. All I had was a girl sitting in a train station, though.

I have a niece named Rosi. The name is pronounced with a soft ‘s’, as in ‘gross’. She is Bulgarian and her real name is Rositsa. I found it amusing, and somewhat sad, when friends of her parents would be introduced to her, hear her name spoken, and immediately call her ‘Rosie’, as in ‘Rosie the Riveter’. Then I discovered that I had a name for my character. I will say that my Rosi is not related to my niece, but they both have the same Slavic name. They are also both bright, headstrong, and curious. My Rosi is older and much more of a rebel. There have been several physical models for Rosi, but they have existed mostly in my head.

The original title was Rosi Out of Joint, with reference to the line from Hamlet. One of my readers said that my audience would think that it was about a girl who was escaping from prison.

Rosi was younger, then older. I settled on 15, but through much of the drafting stages, she was 16 or 17. If she were 12, even her eccentric Uncle Richard would have to be more of a presence in her life. He is there, but he practices a rather laissez faire kind of parenting. Rosi needed to be old enough to have some independence. When I made her 16 or 17 though, it struck me that she was perhaps a bit too old. The relationships she got in would have a different flavor. If she were old enough to have a car (and her family certainly has the money), she would not be nearly as isolated as I needed her to be. Her age is not that much of an issue in Rosi’s Castle, but by the time we get into books 2 and 3, Rosi’s Time and Rosi’s Company, it will be.

Rosi Out of Joint became Rosi’s Doors and then became Rosi’s Doors: The Battle for New Richmond. I had envisioned writing one or two more books about her adventures. The publisher (see below) turned the book I had written into a trilogy. Rosi’s Castle is the first book in a trilogy called Rosi’s Doors. I hope to sell enough books to convince the publisher to take on books 4 and 5. Rosi will get older, her choices will be tougher, and the tone will get darker.

New Richmond, New Hampshire is a fictitious place. It is located on the southeast corner of New Hampshire. It is in New Hampshire for the same reason Dan Meadow’s (Rosi’s love interest) family is there: for tax reasons. Okay, so I also live in New England. That has something to do with it. New Richmond somewhat resembles Mikhmoret, a small fishing village near Netaniya, Israel. I did some archaeology there many years ago. New Richmond is much bigger, or at least the harbor is. Our dig was on the point, high above the harbor. That is what I see when I am looking at the town from The Castle. It is not, though, what Rosi sees. The name New Richmond was very specifically chosen, as was the name Carol. They are all hints as to Rosi’s family history and to the history of the town. Throughout the books, more hints will be given. Many of these hints are in names.

Rosi is very much a cousin to Buffy Summers. Like Buffy, she is an outsider, desperate to make friends, but in an unwelcomed role that makes keeping friends all but impossible. Like Buffy, she all too often lets her teen-aged hormones guide her to the wrong decision. Unlike Buffy, she will not always have a convenient male to come and save the day every time she gets in too deep. Really! Watch the show: Buffy can only do so much before Xander or Angel or Giles or Spike comes in and fixes everything. I suppose girl-power has its limits even in the Whedonverse.

Rosi is a grandchild to Nancy Drew and Ruth Fielding. I read quite a few of the Ruth Fielding books when I was growing up. I loved series books and specialized in books by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. I would not be a reader had it not been for the companionship of Dick, Tom, and Sam Rover; the Bobbsey Twins; Toms Swift, Sr. and Jr.; and Frank and Joe Hardy.

Rosi is, perhaps, also distantly related to Dr. Who, though I only really realized it (and rediscovered Dr. Who as an adult) long after my story was developed. (Spoilers!)

What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

I have lots of story ideas. I play with them in my imagination. Most ideas last a few minutes or hours. A few stick around longer. If the idea is still growing in my mind, I jot down a few notes. I might talk to Silviya about it. If she likes the idea and if a few days down the line the idea is still burrowing away inside me, I assign a notebook to the idea. I usually have some project I am working on. I keep track of the notebook, add to it, and at some point I take the notebook and put it on the front burner.

A few years ago, when I was looking at various notebooks and files and wondering what project to work on, I was struck by the notes about a girl sitting alone in a train station who waiting for a car to take her to her new home, a castle.

I cannot work on inspiration. It is not that I don’t believe in inspiration. I do. I am inspired all the time. I would not have to wait for inspiration, I would be overwhelmed.

Most of my learning experience came once the book was accepted. My editor and publisher taught me a great deal about writing. More than I would have learned in a class. I have taught writing. There is something too abstract about writing for a grade. Working on a book, knowing that there is a publisher waiting for the changes and that at some point there will be an actual physical book puts everything in a different kind of perspective. I also learned that I love deadlines. It is easier to not write than to write. A deadline means that I have to actually sit down and get it done. I need to stop arranging the desk, buying lattes, and sharpening pencils.

How would you best describe your books?


I hope that readers of all ages will enjoy Rosi’s Castle. It was written with teenagers in mind, but there are references and jokes that will make more sense to older audiences. Not getting the references will not detract from the reading experience. Getting them will add to it.

The trilogy Rosi’s Doors might even end up being educational, but I don’t want to stress that with younger readers and chase them away.

I call Rosi’s Castle sci-fi/fantasy, but, especially as the trilogy progresses, quite a few other genres will get involved.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

Reading: I am an eclectic reader. I think all real readers are. Historical fiction is up there among my favorites. The Claudius books by Graves and Colleen McCullough’s First Man in Rome series are excellent. I really rooted for Sulla. I did not care so much for Caesar. I like my heroes flawed. There is a whole slew of mystery series that take place in Ancient Rome. The Falco books are the most famous, but I prefer the Marcus Corvinus series. There are so many of these series, and they are a lot of fun. McCullough is by far the best historian. World War Two also gets me, whether it is fictional or historical. You can see my love of military fiction in Rosi’s Castle. Rosi’s taste in movies is mine. Her view of reality is strongly influenced by movies and books, as is mine. This will be more evident in books 2 and 3.

Really, I have to say “Thank God” for eBook readers. I will not plug any specific one, but I find mine to be invaluable. I have traveled a fair amount over the last few years and even lived for some periods of time overseas. I love having three hundred books in one tiny machine. I love having a gadget dedicated to books. I am not quite brave enough to take my reader into the bath or to the beach, so I always have some hard copy books with me, but I can travel with a library.

Since, these days, everyone is supposed to make a ‘best of’ list of some sort, here is mine: best book written in English in the last century (Lord of the Rings); best book written by an American in the same period (Gone with the Wind); best book written by a living author (Pillars of the Earth – far and away better than anything else Follett has written); best English language author alive (James Ellroy – he is brilliant, but difficult to read.). Of course: all in my humble opinion.

I enjoy telling a story. I will suit my presentation to the audience. I suppose that I prefer young adults and children as audience. Perhaps I hope to be able to share some of the joy I got from reading when I was younger.

What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?

I hope I never have to choose a genre or style to write in. I write a lot of verse. The process is much different than writing prose. I write verse almost exclusively by hand.

I suppose that if I knew my book would be published and read, I would play with style a lot more. I would like to tease the audience with language, with the use and the absence of words.

I would like to explore different media. I would love to write a screenplay (I have, but I mean one that is produced). I would love to write for television, even radio. I have some killer ideas for games. At least I would play them.

To me, writing, like any art form, requires an audience. I want people to read what I right and enjoy it. That does not mean I necessarily need to be a best seller. But I want an audience.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I knew I wanted to work in the arts since I was a little boy. As I said in the previous question: to me, art requires an audience; it is a communication between the artist and the audience. This communication is different depending on the medium. Theatre, film, television, paintings, music, most other forms of art are collective communication. Writing is intensely personal. When you read Rosi’s Castle there is a communication going on between you and me. It is on an individual level.

If you paint a picture, you can stick it on a wall and people will have no choice but to see it. If you sing or play and instrument, you can stand in the middle of a restaurant and start screeching to your heart’s content. A Play has a slew of people involved who can and should drag their friends to see it. Most forms of art have some way to get some sort of audience. You cannot get an accidental audience for a written work. A manuscript on a table is simply a pile of paper. I have seen many occasions when guests will urge a painter to take the cover off an unfinished work so that they can see what it looks like. In some circles, it is considered rude not to ask someone to sing or play the piano when they casually mention that they are taking lessons or have written a piece. I have never been to a dinner where a professional musician is a guest and has not been expected to sing for his supper, as it were. Tell people you are writing a book? Eyes glaze over. Worse is when you give a précis on your work and it immediately reminds someone of some similar work. Perhaps the worst is when they start giving you advice about other books to read or ways to improve your story. Until the book is actually in print, your treated like someone’s red headed stepchild. You are certainly not treated as if you are someone working. Every writer I have ever met—fiction or academic—has faced the same problem: working at home equals not working equals chores, the shopping, etc.

That said, I love writing. I love creating new people and new worlds. I love drafting a work. I am not crazy about rewriting, at least I was not until I worked with an editor on Rosi’s Castle. I enjoy the whole process: from mentioning an idea in passing to my wife, to making notes, to outlining, to drafting. It is a creative process. I have worked in the arts all my life. But theatre is, unless you are the playwright, an interpretive art.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

Music? Mozart is always good. So is Pink Floyd. I recently discovered the Foo Fighters. Most recently, I have been listening to Bear McCreary’s music for Battlestar Galactica. When I am listening to music to help me with my stories, I don’t listen to albums or artists, but rather to specific songs. When I was drafting the last part of Rosi’s Castle in July, it was “Passacaglia” from BSG, season one. Beautiful piece. I can listen to a piece over and over for weeks. I suppose that I hope I can put some of the emotion I feel when listening to that piece into the writing. I will say that Silviya and Brian (my other reader) felt that Part Three was the strongest writing, at least stylistically.

I am a bit of an Aristotelian. Aristotle said that the value of art was that it elicited a catharsis in the audience. Great art is art that can resonate emotionally with an audience over time. So much art today is trying to get the audience to think about issues. Artists always have to have a message or a point. I know that I will offend a lot of music lovers and experts when I say that music is the purest form of art because you do not need to know anything to have a cathartic experience. You have to be able to read to appreciate Byron. You have to understand English to appreciate Shakespeare. All you have to be able to do to appreciate Mozart is hear.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I have been for several years a peripheral member of a reading group established by a fried of mine. However, I have spent much of the last several years away from my Boston home. I was an artist-in-residence at a university in North Carolina, I taught on Semester at Sea, I lived in Oman for a year. On top of that, I regularly work in the theatre, which means my evenings are busy. I also need to spend some time with my wife and son. I also need to make money. Finding time to meet with a writing group is difficult. That friend, Brian, however, did take the time—quite a lot of it—reading and critiquing Rosi’s Castle when I was preparing it for publication.

Finding a manuscript reader is tough. Most people do not want to take the time to read something that is unpublished. I understand that. When you do find people who will read your book, more often than not, they expect you to follow their advice, do the rewrite in front of them, and get quite upset if you ignore it. (The only people I have to listen to are my publisher and my editor, and even then if I think I’m right I stick to my guns. I think I even won one of those rounds. Only one.)

A good manuscript reader is someone who will help you make your book better, not try and impose his style or philosophy or any of that stuff. What I do not want to hear is someone telling me about the books I should be reading if I want to be a writer. Rosi’s Castle is a YA sci-fi book. Presumably, I have read a few YA books in my day. I might even have read the odd sci-fi book. Someone I spoke about my book with encouraged me to read Dorothy Parker, as every aspiring author must do, she said. Filling my head with self-important alcohol-fueled cynicism is hardly what I want to do when I am writing Rosi’s stories.

My favorite readers are Brian, my wife, and my father, though he generally only reads my verse writing. When I win the lottery or sell the movie rights, I will hire Brian to read for me, so he will have to slog through any number of drafts. Until then, I figure that I have them for about one draft each.

I do not really use websites to help me write. I use them to search publishers. I use them for research. I hate to say it, but I heart Wikipedia. I realize that I am supposed to hate it, but I cannot. A few years ago, I was at a university that had some serious cheating problems. Students were copying and pasting entire Wikipedia articles and turning them in as papers. An administrator told us that the university was considering banning Wikipedia on campus. One of my colleagues was furious. “How are we supposed to prep for class?” he asked.

I am kind of old school about where I get my writing advice. I really think that if you take Aristotle’s Poetics, Freytag’s Pyramid of Dramatic Structure, and Campbell’s Monomyth, you don’t really need anything else. Most advice-to-writers books simply use more contemporary examples for illustration and cost money. Aristotle, Freytag, and Campbell can be found online for free.

Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?

I have published a few poems over the years. I have published a few scholarly papers as well. I may have a PhD, but I do not consider myself a scholar. Indeed, I feel that most scholarship interferes with art. It usually misses the point completely. Last year (2010) saw the publication of my dramatic poem, Orpheus and Eurydice, (you can follow links to a website about the poem on my website). I originally wrote that piece to be performed by my theatre group in Oman, where I was teaching. I had two very strong English speakers who had lived overseas. They played Orpheus and Eurydice. One of my colleagues played Hades, because the actor I had selected for the part dropped out because he felt that playing a pagan god would be sacrilegious (true story). The piece was well received. A small publishing house in England said that they felt this piece had little to no market, but should be in print forever. Just today (Thanksgiving, 2011) I checked their website and found that they were closing down shop. So much for immortality.

How many books have I written? Lots. All sorts of genres as well. Of course, most of those books never got finished. Some did, though. One was, in my mind, ready for a publisher. It was an adult (NC-17, I mean) psychological thriller. Getting back a slew of form letters rejecting a work is depressing. Getting notes from editors and agents telling you how good your work is but that they wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pencil is even worse.

Rosi’s Castle is my first published novel.

How did you find a publisher? How did you receive the Call?

Before finding a publisher for Rosi’s Castle, I went through several rounds of collecting rejection notices. Each of those was followed by a period of revision. When I decided to give Rosi one last try, my first thought was to publish her adventure completely as a web book. the website was initially set up so I could periodically release chapters of the book. Then, lightning struck twice, as it were. Two publishers offered to publish the book. One publisher offered to publish it as was—a long one-volume work. Dragonfly Publishing offered to publish it, but insisted that I divide the book into three parts. I was surprised that Dragonfly would even consider publishing the book. They were not even accepting submissions. For some reason, I wrote Terri Branson and started an email dialogue going with her. After some time, she asked me to send her a synopsis. That got the ball rolling. I suppose I went with Dragonfly because Terri had become someone with whom I was developing a relationship. The other publisher simply said ‘yes’. I also suppose that the insistence that I make major structural and plot changes told me that Terri and the others at Dragonfly were taking the book seriously.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

Yesterday, I went over to my mother’s to sign copies of my book that she will give as Christmas presents. That was the first time I saw the book in print. There is my special memory. Yes, I did publish a dramatic poem last year, but that had such a limited audience (and the publisher has since closed up shop—I hope not because of me). Yesterday, I saw my book, out in the world. I felt proud. Perhaps I will feel even prouder when I see someone reading it on the subway.

One of my favorite aspects of Rosi’s Castle is that it is a book that is part of a greater universe. Much of the universe in unpublished. Much of it might never be published. One distant cousin was a Russian princess who will probably never see the light of day. One distant cousin is a pregnant 12-year old who lives with a witch in a tree. Once I am finished with Rosi’s adventures, I plan on exploring hers. All their histories are intertwined with each other’s and with historical figures’ from the non-fictional world. I hope someday that someone will care enough to try and figure out the connections. Tolkien had his Christopher; I have mine.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

As far as personal appearances go, I am looking into that. I am new to promotion and marketing, so this might take some time. I will certainly let you know. Perhaps you can let your readers know. Or they can check out my website. I will keep that updated.

Writing? I am working on volumes 2 and 3 of the trilogy. They are running a bit longer than volume 1.

I have also written another verse drama, this one is called Hector and Achilles. It is about Hector and Achilles. I have submitted it to the National Playwrights Conference and will be exploring other venues for it.
I am also working on a verse novella about a group of expats in a bar in Oman.

I have quite a few other ideas in various stages of creation, but will keep them to myself for the moment.

What would you like to tell readers?

Read. Really. That is something I tell my students. That is something I tell everyone. Of course I hope you buy Rosi’s Castle. Heck, buy a copy for each room so you don’t have to carry it around. But even if you have no interest in my book, read some book. Presumably, the readers of this webpage are readers, but still…a few years ago, I took a straw poll in one of my classes. “How many of you have read a Harry Potter book?” I asked. Two hands rose. One was mine. 300 million copies, and only 2 people out of 30 had read one. I do this every semester. The numbers change, but never by much.

Perhaps I am overly partial to reading. I almost always have a book with me. When I do not take a book, inevitably I will wish that I had. I have e-book apps on my phone and my pad. I have a reader. I used to have 2,000 books, but I moved into a place that simply would not support that many. When I drive I listen to books.
I can never be bored, because I can always find something to read. I understand that some people do not like to read (well, I try to be nice about it). I do not understand when people claim to be readers, then say that they don’t have time to read.

So, readers, read. Read anything. A bodice-ripping romance might be trash, but Sookie Stackhouse is only a hop, skip, and a jump from Dracula. If you can swallow all the 19th-century overwrought prose in Dracula, you might just enjoy Dickens or Scott. You might even find Twain in there at some point. Snobbish teachers and critics have done more to intimidate readers and scare them away from the libraries that any writer ever has.
Thank you.