Other Writers & Worlds

Do you dare lose your way in the woods?


Tale Twisters

Guest post by JESSICA ASPEN

I first met Lyndi Alexander in 2010, when she was working on the manuscript that would become WINDMILLS and I was re-writing THE DARK HUNTSMAN for the third time. That was when I realized how much we had in common, number one being our great love of fantasy and number two our great love of books and writing. Or maybe those things are out of order. Maybe it’s writing, then books, then fantasy. I’m not sure it matters, what’s important is that we hit it off.

Oh, and we both wrote about elves.

Yes, elves.

Lyndi caught my attention with her glass slipper that spilled out a cache of elves at the feet of her heroine and onto a city street. What a terrific twist on a classic fairy tale. I was hooked. I bought her book out of the back of her car that weekend and I’ve been very glad that I did. You wouldn’t think there could be so many interpretations of elves, but the truth is that there are as many different ways one can write about elves as there are writers. And that’s saying a lot.

And that brings me to something else we have in common, a love of twisting the classic fairy tale elements. THE DARK HUNTSMAN is a modern fantasy twist of Snow White, but there are only hints and glimpses of the traditional story that lies beneath. I like to layer in tiny elements like apples, witches, and evil queens. And then twist the tale by making the huntsman the hero instead of the prince. Lyndi strays even farther from the standard fairy tale path, but if you look deep you can find those elements in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot. A hidden princess, an unlikely prince, the glass slipper.

Twisted fairy tales are hot right now, we see them on the big screen and on the TV screen. I’ve loved them since I first discovered a book of short fairy tale twists including one dark tale by CJ Cherryh that I wish I still owned. Darn those constant moves of my youth. I fell in love with the idea of taking a classic story that has all the right elements: romance, magic, girl in trouble, handsome guy, and something ugly, and making it my own. I got to change the things I didn’t like about the story and keep the things I loved.

Snow White has always seemed a little passive to me. I get to re-write the whole story and make her kick-ass. The prince was this dude who came in at the ending, insisted on disturbing the dwarves’ mourning, and kissed the dead girl. How weird is that? Let’s just get rid of him, because the real hero is the working man who takes the risk of his own beheading and doesn’t kill Snow White in the first place. The huntsman. That’s a man I want to kiss.

What fairy tale elements to you love to see in stores? What pieces are intrinsic to the tales? Does Cinderella have to have two step-sisters, or can they be step-brothers, or uncles, or maybe several step-mothers? Does Rapunzel have to have long hair? What if the big bad wolf wasn’t the bad guy?

Do authors have to stay on the beaten path or can they lure you deeper into the tale and encourage you to get lost in the brambles on the side paths?

Are you willing to be lost in the woods?

The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court

An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White…

Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.

Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.

As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.

Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of steamy, fantasy romance in her new twisted fairy tale trilogy: Tales of the Black Court…


Buy now on Amazon:http://amzn.com/B00FN2P7A8

Add to Goodreads Shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18481503-the-dark-huntsman

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.  To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj


Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)


Website: http://jessicaaspen.com





Jessica Aspen’s non-spammy, new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

Patrick Stutzman’s fascinating premise–a woman alone

 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?

My name is Patrick Stutzman, and I am a science fiction author. I live in the greater Kansas City area with my wife, two daughters, and a host of animals (a dog, three cats, a gerbil, and a couple of hermit crabs). I drink coffee but only at my day job. I hold a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, which I feel helps me with creating new and believable technologies for my stories.

Tell us about your new book.

At the time I write this, I am preparing to release the third book of the Chronicles of Anna Foster series titled Alone in the Crowd. While the first two books take place one after the other, several years have passed when the third book opens. Several new characters are introduced in this one, but we still follow Anna’s exploits. This one promises more action and adventure.

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

 Honestly, it was a desire to keep my writing skills sharp that got me started on the book series. I had just finished my job as a game designer for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, and I could not think of a better way to do so. As for Crowd, it was just a natural progression of the storyline that began with the first two books. The most interesting thing I researched for this book was how a human body decays after death. I know it’s a gruesome topic, but it had to be done.

How would you best describe your books?

 My books are about a woman trying to survive while alone and isolated from the rest of Human civilization. In some ways, you might say it’s like having Robinson Crusoe set in the future.

 What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

 My favorite genre is science fiction to both read and write, although I also read fantasy and a little horror.

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

 Beside my own books, I would choose to return to Star Wars. I absolutely loved writing for the Star Wars universe and would gladly do it again.

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

 Writing allows me to release the creative side of myself and let it run rampant; that’s what I like most. What I like least is chasing it around and cleaning up its mess. I suppose the first sign of me wanting to write came to me in 5th grade, when I was given free rein in creative writing. I created story after story and happily shared them with the class throughout the year. I even wrote a play and performed it for the class.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

 The only group to which I belong is Science Fiction & Fantasy Saturday, which is found at http://scififansat.blogspot.com. I don’t have any one particular writing website I favor. But, one particular blog I find useful and entertaining belongs to Chuck Wendig and is located at http://www.terribleminds.com. He presents tips for writers with a humorous and somewhat vulgar spin.

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

 I prefer to listen to orchestral soundtracks to some of my favorite movies and TV shows. Some of the soundtracks in my writing repertoire are Babylon 5, Dragonheart, Princess Mononoke, Star Wars (both trilogies), and the video game Command & Conquer: Generals. The music evokes certain moods and ignites my creativeness that help me create certain scenes for what I am writing.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

At this time, I do not belong to a critique group. I probably should find one.

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

 After I finished writing Paradise, I went on the prowl for an agent or a publisher. Nobody wanted me. I decided to not give up home and went with the self-publishing route. Thus far, I have self-published two books. To date, I have not sold any of my books to a publisher.

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

The one thing I enjoyed the most was the background for the extraterrestrial race that made a brief appearance in the second book, Alone in Paradise. I had already created the basic biology for the race a number of years ago as an experimental concept, but I had to add so much more detail to them for the third and the upcoming fourth book. For example, I have several references to tracking time between Humans and the other race, so I had to figure out how long a local day was on their planet, how they tracked the passing of time (and had it make sense), and how it all translated to Human terms.

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

Right now, I am part way through the fourth book of the series. I have the basic outline already plotted and have the first draft partially done. I am scheduled to appear at ConQuest taking place in Kansas City from 24-26 May.

What would you like to tell readers?

 If you have read any of the previous books of the series, Alone in the Crowd promises more action and suspense than the first two books. I hope to have it released before Memorial Day weekend.

 Feel free to contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus with your questions, comments, compliments, hate mail, etc. (Okay, maybe not so much on the hate mail.) I should be pretty easy to find. I do read all of them and am very likely to respond.

Thanks again, Patrick! Very interesting points and best wishes with your book sales!


Abracadabra! Erin Danzer’s book makes its debut

Book Blurb:
Fifteen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.

 Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.

Author Bio:
Erin Danzer wrote her first book at 10-years-old for a Young Authors competition, where she was awarded an Honorable Mention and discovered a passion for the written word. She’s written several novels and short stories since that spark ignited. She writes a monthly short story serial, The Cassandra Serafin Chronicles, posting alternately on her blog and in Literary Lunes bi-monthly online magazine. Into the Spiral is Erin’s debut novel. Erin resides in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and their cat.

 Website: http://www.erindanzer.com

FB Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ErinDanzerYAAuthor

Twitter: @erindanzer

Now you can find me on the web! Check out my website at   http://www.erindanzer.com/ 
Like my Fan Page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ErinDanzerYAAuthor
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/erindanzer

Karma and Mayhem, both interesting guests, come to visit the Clan Elves


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Catherine E. McLean, author of Karma and Mayhem, a paranormal-fantasy-romance e-novel that was just released by Soul Mate Publishing (www.soulmatepublishing.com). I live on a farm in rural Western Pennsylvania with my husband. Our only child, a daughter, is grown and lives out of state. She and my husband are my first readers, and they also happen to be avid readers.

What’s your education, and is it relevant to your writing?

I wrote my first short story in third grade, but writing was never more than something I did as a hobby. Yet, writing played a role in the jobs I held, first as a secretary, then as a freelance journalist. All of those on-the-job skills made it easy to transition to becoming an author who sells articles and short stories.
When I first began writing novels, I was told that “writers are self-taught,” and if I truly wanted to became a “selling” storyteller and not just a writer who wrote, I needed to learn the devices and techniques of fiction and storytelling. After studying (not just reading) a few hundred how-to books, I developed a knack for spotting and explaining how the various aspects of fiction worked, the choices available in usage, and the pros and cons. After a discussion at one of my Pennwriters’ meetings (my local writer’s group), I was asked to give a series of mini-workshops on various techniques. The next thing I knew, I was giving in-person workshops, college enrichment program writing workshops, and then conference workshops. In 2009, I gave my first online workshop and have done one or two every year since.
Do I have a degree? No. Do I want one? No. What I quest for is the knowledge because I truly believe craft enhances talent. What I’ve learned, and continue to learn, means I have far more choices in writing and storytelling.

Tell us a little about your novel Karma and Mayhem. Is it your first?

Karma and Mayhem is not my first novel, but it is my first published novel. I’m a producing writer who can do, from start to finish, two 100,000 word novels a year.
Okay, so I seem to have a revolving door to the basement of my mind where my muse plays. That “kid” constantly gives me story sparkers or dumps of the text for short story and novel openings. In other words, I’m always working on something.
For the curious, the story sparker for Karma and Mayhem came in May of 2005 and was a line of a poem about what happened in the Valley of Rathe, which Janay, an ex-peacekeeper and the story’s heroine, survived. (She quotes the poem in Karma and Mayhem.) I didn’t actually begin working on the story until that winter.
I will also confess that the hero, Tienan, had me baffled when I first got the story dump because his name didn’t feel right to me. On a very simplistic level, it’s the conscious mind that must translate what the storytelling subconscious sends up. Unfortunately, the two don’t actually talk to each other in the same way, so its understandable that messages get garbled now and then.
Anyway, the first name came out as Aydin, and my instinct revolted at that and the next five names. None felt or sounded right, nor did the name meanings fit the character I knew this man, this hero, to be. Then one morning a few weeks later, I woke and the very first thought that popped into my mind was Tienan. My second thought was: What kind of name is Tienan? I looked it up in my baby name books and found Tienan was a real name and it meant “crowned.” In that instant, I knew–and felt deep down–that Tienan was the correct name, the one my subconscious had been trying to get my conscious mind to divulge.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I lean toward two genres. The first is romance (fantasy, contemporary, historical, regency, futuristic, time-travel, etc.–not necessarily in that order). The second is good, old-fashioned science fiction known as Space Opera (which has, sadly, fallen out of vogue).
I’m also an eclectic reader. If a story interests me, I’ll read it. Some of my favorite authors are: Jane Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Justine Davis, Catherine Asaro, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Moore, David Webber, John Ringo, Laura Kinsale, Louis L’Amour, Arthur C. Clarke, Elizabeth Moon, Larry Niven, Heinlein, J. K. Rowling, and Ann Bishop.

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

I actually need peace and quite to write so I can hear the vocal inflections and voices of the characters as their story plays out like a movie in my mind. Perhaps this way of drafting a story evolved from my many years of taking dictation as a secretary. However, it does require concentration. So, no music, no distractions.
Unfortunately, I can’t convince the house cat to let herself out or to fill her feed dish.

What’s your favorite thing about Karma and Mayhem? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

The stand-out element was with the initial idea and figuring out how a man could have two souls and, in particular, how a soul could have a soul.
The second stand-out moment came after the book was contracted. I knew I needed some “raffle” item related to the story to give when doing workshops and for the book launch party. I couldn’t give away a katana (too expensive, not to mention lethal) nor could I give away a replica of a twice blessed dirk because they didn’t exist.
A few weeks ago, on the way home from grocery shopping, it occurred to me that I could give away the Choke-berry Shalamiz, the “blood of ages,” Tienan used to “baptize” Janay (in chapter ten). Trouble was, shalamiz wasn’t a real drink, and just how did one concoct something like it?
I called a chef I know. On October 1, I had a recipe for the Choke-berry Shalamiz thick enough to coat a spoon or glass (like it did in the book). As a bonus, a little change to the amount of ingredients and leaving out the thickening agent resulted in a tart-sweet, fizzy, and very bloody looking beverage. Both are non-alcoholic.
I gave away the dual recipe as the grand prize at my October 10, online book launch party for Karma and Mayhem. Thus only three people have that recipe—the chef and I (who created it) and one lucky winner.

What are you writing now or what’s next for you? Will you be making personal appearances where our readers can find you?

Right now I’m polishing Jewels of the Sky, a science-fiction adventure with a female protagonist, that ties in with the December, 2012, Mayan “End of Days.” This novel is contracted as a print-on-demand book due out soon. I’ve also got a project bible half done for a sequel to Karma and Mayhem (featuring Rowen, Tienan’s brother).
I’m also now scheduling workshops, as well as doing guest blog appearances and interviews. Currently I have an in-person workshop at my local library, Oct.24, on “Characters, Clues, and Creativity.” This is for readers and writers. I’ll be doing a repeat session, again at the library, on November 3.
On October 30, I’ll be blogging at my regular spot at Soul Mate Publishing’s author’s blog (my blog there is “Catherine’s Cup of Tea”). I’ll also be taking part in SMP’s November 14 Blog-a-Thon.
And on November 17, I’ll be at the Grove City library, doing “Questing for a Story.”
A schedule of my appearances, blogging, interviews, and workshops can be found at either www.CatherineEmclean.com (for readers) or www.WritersCheatSheets.com (for writers).


While investigating a series of murders, warlock Tienan De’Argossi encounters Janay–a lovely, dirk-wielding, down-on-her-luck ex-peacekeeper who talks to archangels.  When she rescues his brother from demons, Tienan figures he owes her.  So, other than she’s plainspoken and gutsy, what’s the harm in having her as a house guest? 

Links for Catherine are:

www.CatherineEmclean.com (for readers)
www.WritersCheatSheets.com (for writers)
Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/catherine-e-mclean/7/70b/372
Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002397950738
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/CatherineMcLea7

Dark fantasy author Simon Williams visits the home of the Clan Elves!

Thanks to Simon Williams for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in? 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?

I live in the UK, although I travel as much as I can afford to.

I did okay at school but I’m certainly not an academic genius, so I haven’t found that it’s particularly helped- I reckon I could do what I do just as well without any further education!

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk
about today?

My most recent work that was published is Secret Roads, the second book in the Aona series. The first book, Oblivion’s Forge, was published in 2011.

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

Oblivion’s Forge stirred up a bit more interest than I expected, and that pushed me on to write the sequel probably a lot more quickly than I would have done otherwise. Oblivion’s Forge took a long, long time to complete but Secret Roads was done in under a year- and I’m hoping that the third book, provisionally titled The Endless Shore, will be out around the end of 2012.

How would you best describe your books?

Probably dark fantasy with a certain amount of psychological horror and some sci-fi / tech elements, although they’re dealt with in quite a fantasy way if that makes any sense. Essentially this is based in the very distant future.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favourite would be the above- that’s what I feel best about when writing. As for reading, I read a broad range of fantasy but also some contemporary fiction.

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

Well, I feel as if I can write anything I want- the words are mine, I just have to express them- so you can see my words of choice in my written works!

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I like the feeling when a chapter or even just a paragraph suddenly comes together- that feeling when you just know that you’ve finally got it exactly right. I think the thing I like least would be the editing, looking for errors, trying to spot things that aren’t quite right- that can be quite a
strength-sapping process.

I wanted to be an author from a very young age- I was writing stories from about the age of five or six, so pretty much as soon as I could write at all.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I was a member of a few writing groups many years ago but didn’t really fit in- or perhaps my style didn’t really fit in!

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

I almost always listen to music when I’m writing. The type of music depends on my mood and on the scenarios I’m writing as much as anything else, and it could literally be almost any genre.

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 wrote loads of books and stories when I was younger, but in recent times I have two published novels- the first two books of the Aona series. I started out the traditional route of asking agents or publishers to read my work, but the responses were few and far between, and most of those that did respond varied between terse and disinterested- so I decided to carve my own destiny. I certainly don’t regret publishing the books myself- sales are gradually increasing and they’re already far better than I expected!

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

I like the fact that it expands on a number of the characters that were introduced in the first book and adds depth to them as well as moving the plot onwards. There’s additional depth to the book and hopefully it keeps the same atmosphere as the first in the series.

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

I don’t think I have enough fans yet to warrant personal appearances- and I’m pretty sure they’d be disappointed!- but I do have a number of projects I’m working on. Apart from The Endless Shore (the third book in the Aona series), I’m working on an anthology of short stories (as yet entitled) and also a standalone novel, provisionally called The Spiral. Find out more at http://www.worldofaona.com/

What would you like to tell readers?

Thanks for reading and thanks for reviewing- as simple as that. It’s the feedback and comments from people that I value the most and which encourage me to keep going.

Oblivion’s Forge:

Amazon.co.uk (paperback)


Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)


Amazon.com (paperback)


Amazon.com (Kindle)


Secret Roads:

Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)


Amazon.com (Kindle)


(My publisher doesn’t seem to have distributed the paperback of Secret Roads to Amazon yet)

Best place to get paperback copies is CompletelyNovel.com:
Oblivion’s Forge:


Secret Roads:


Also my Goodreads profile for some links, reviews etc.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6094097.Simon_Williams

Edward Eaton, Redux: this prolific author brings three stories of mystery, sorrow and vanity to our world

Author Ted Eaton has had a busy year, publishing not one, but three works–and it’s only August! His first book, Rosi’s Castle, has been quite a success, and the second book in the series has just been released. We had him here last year, when he was first published, and we’re delighted to feature him again. But I’ll let him share all his wonderful news!

Thanks for being with us today, and welcome back! First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Hi, again, Babs.

I’m Ted Eaton (actually, Edward Eaton). I live in Boston, MA. I grew up in West Virginia, and my family has for generations been from North Carolina and Virginia. I consider myself a southerner. I like to joke that Boston is a great place for southerners because here, like in the south, ‘Yankee’ is a bad word.

I have a wife, Silviya, who works as a hospital administrator. I have a little boy, Christopher, who is eight and who drives us crazy.

I used to have dogs. I love dogs. What I do not like is taking care of dogs. They are time consuming and limiting. Christopher wants a dog. Right now, we live in an apartment that does not allow dogs, so we have an excuse. When we get our own place, especially if it’s a house with a yard, we will have to come up with another excuse. Christopher does not really follow my reasoning: “Why should I get you a dog when I will be the one who takes care of it?” Anyway, he and I need to come to an agreement as to what is a dog. Right now, he really likes those poufy dust-bunny dogs, like Yorkies. Small enough for him to manage. I like Beagles and Labradors. Sturdy dogs that make noise when strangers are around. I used to have a Lab. I never locked my doors. I always said that if someone was going to get past an angry barking seventy-pound dog, then they were going to get into the place anyway and probably knew what they were after.

I have a PhD in Theatre History. I do some academic writing, but my fiction and poetry is not inherently related to theatre. Some of it is (like the plays I wrote). The way I look at history and the way I structure pieces comes from my graduate work. I certainly do not think that a degree is necessary for a writer. An education, though, is (I do not necessarily mean an ‘academic’ education). Part of that is because writers need some maturity and life experience, a sense of perspective.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

Well, I have had a busy summer. I have had three books released through Dragonfly.

A few years ago, my verse drama, Orpheus and Eurydice, was published by a small publisher in England. They have since closed (without paying me, by the way). I was planning on self-publishing Orpheus and Eurydice this summer just to make it available. I asked the fine people at Dragonfly if they could give me some advice. They took a look at the piece and decided that they would be happy to have it as part of their catalogue.

Plays are shorter than novels. Much shorter. Hamlet is only about 30,000 words, and it is a remarkably long play. So, I suggested that they might want to make a two-play anthology and publish my play Elizabeth Bathory, which was performed by a small theatre here in Boston a few years ago. Dragonfly took a look at that play and decided that while it shared some themes with Orpheus and Eurydice, it was stylistically very different (not verse, for one thing) and intended for a different kind of audience (Elizabeth Bathory was written for a Western audience; Orpheus and Eurydice was written to be performed in the Middle East—we had censors come to rehearsals to make sure that the two girls playing the leads were not too close to each other, and we caused a small scandal when they touched briefly at the end). So, they suggested that they release them separately.

At about the same time, my editor sent in the final copy of Rosi’s Doors, Book II, Rosi’s Time. Dragonfly said that they could release Rosi’s Time in the same release window as the two plays, or, we could wait until the winter for a release. I am impatient, so I said that I would opt for a summer release. Of course, what that meant was that I had three very busy weeks doing proofs for three volumes. That is exhausting work. You have done proofs. It can be mind numbing.

You aren’t kidding!! And three at once? You’re a real trouper!


Rosi’s Time. Book two in my series. Rosi has learned about her family secret and is now responsible for it. Unfortunately, she is not the only person who learns what the family secret is. Her enemy from Book 1, Kirk, is back in full force. He leads Rosi and her friends on an exciting and dangerous chase through America’s history. Rosi must also find a way home, if indeed there is still a home to go to.

Orpheus and Eurydice. In Orpheus and Eurydice, two young lovers travel from idyllic Greek glades to the fiery pits of Hell, from the brink of ecstatic joy to the depths of despair. This story is based on the one from Classical Greece, but with a few twists thrown in just for fun. The poem is written in verse. Actually, it is written in Haiku inspired triplets. Each verse follows the syllabic form of Japanese Haiku. The work is not, though, a series of thematically connected Haiku. It is dialogue that follows the specific form. This was quite well received in Oman when it was first produced. The expats in the audience enjoyed the use of language. The Omanis enjoyed the story (most were unfamiliar with it), found it rather shocking, and cheered the villainous Persephone at the end.

Elizabeth Bathory. She killed hundreds to stay young and beautiful forever. The punishment? It worked. Based on a true story. When Elizabeth Báthory discovers that the blood of maidens will keep her young, she sets off on a bloody killing spree that lasts for years and results in the deaths of hundreds. When she is finally caught, she is walled up in her own castle. There, every young and beautiful, she is denied the love and adoration she so craves. Then a young priest, looking for fame and advancement, comes to save her. Will her need for his flesh be stronger than his need for her soul?

The last pieces are theatrical works, though they are both highly readable. Orpheus and Eurydice probably a bit more than Elizabeth Bathory.

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 wrote each work for different reasons. I wrote Orpheus and Eurydice because I was running a small theatre at a university in Oman. Because of the general level of English my actors had, we had to do some fairly simple things. Light comedy. Two of the actresses (who would eventually play the main characters) asked me to find something a little meatier. Had I been in the States, I would have dug into my library and found something I could have cut up and cleaned up for them. I was not, so I could not. I thought about Orpheus and Eurydice as a subject. They liked it. When I hit on the verse style, it all started moving from there. In the end, I had three native English speakers (the student who played Eurydice, a professor, and another professor’s daughter) and three native Arabic speakers in the play. It was well received.

Elizabeth Bathory was first written with a specific actress in mind—a Russian television actress named Anastasia Melnikova. She loved the piece, but ultimately could not get the funding (or something like that). A small theatre in Boston did an even smaller production of it. I love the piece. There are some really meaty parts in it. This is certainly not a family-oriented play. Elizabeth has some pain in her past, but it is not used by her to excuse or mitigate her actions. Her only regret is getting caught. She was a real person. For whatever it is worth, it is a play, not a work of history. I know where I stray from the history. But I do stray.

Rosi’s Time. Daria Rega, the professor’s daughter who was in Orpheus and Eurydice, read an early draft of Rosi’s Doors: the Battle For New Richmond, which has since become Rosi’s Castle, Rosi’s Time, and Rosi’s Company. She loved it. She strongly encouraged me to pursue it. After some time, I found Dragonfly Publishing. They encouraged me to take the one book I’d written and divide it into three books. Daria would probably recognize the book she read in these three, but only just. I had to make a lot of changes. Rosi’s journey follows the same path, but many of the obstacles are different now.

How would you best describe your books?

Fun. Readable. Entertaining.
I hope that readers will grow as people when they read my stuff, but I am not trying to change the world. I do not have a social agenda or a political agenda (or, if I do, they are not in my writing). I do not mind challenging readers, some. I play with language to some degree. There are plenty of literary and pop culture references and allusions in my works, but they are epiphenomenal.

What do you like to read when you have the chance?

I have an eclectic taste in literature. I go through phases. Historical fiction (especially ancient Rome) is always a safe bet. Mysteries are good. High fantasy (Tolkien) or good space opera.

Desert Island question? Fantasy/Sci-fi. These genres probably should not be lumped together, but publishers and bookstores do, so I get to, as well. I get my Tolkien, my Conan clones, my David Weber (I like his military stuff, especially), and Heinlein (Starship Troopers is one book I read every couple of years). I would miss a lot (Colleen McCullough, Robert Graves, James Clavell), but you did ask me to choose.

What’s your favorite form to write?

Plays. I have an extensive background in the theatre. I could write in just about any style and still write playscripts. Thank God I do not need to choose one style or genre or medium.

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

What I like the most and like the least are essentially the same: the solitude.

When I write, I am the boss. My publisher and editor might disagree, but I really am. The act of creating a piece of literature is something I do alone in my study. The characters do what I want them to do, believe what I want them to believe. The words used are the ones I think of. By the time it gets to my editor, the creation is done. There is still a lot to do, to polish, but no one looks over my shoulder and micromanages what I write (I suppose that can happen with some writers, but has yet to happen to me).

Then again, I get little feedback until I am done. Yes, I have prepublication readers, but there is only so much I can ask them to do for me as a favor. I am very careful about discussing what I am writing with anyone. My wife and my reader Brian are pretty good. Few other people are. My two readers, like my editor and publisher, want to make my work as good as it can be. Other readers, however educated and literate, tend to want to tell me to do what they would want to do. Immediately they start telling me what I should read, who wrote something similar, what they think the characters should really do. When I do not take their advice, they are offended. Since I am not writing best sellers (yet), I am not getting immediate feedback or cloying praise from an agent.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I did attend a reading group briefly. It was started by Brian, whom I mentioned above. I enjoyed the experience. However, Brian and I both came to the conclusion that we were the ones who were interested in producing written works, while the others were more interested in the idea of being writers.

Websites. Well, there is The Clan Elves of the Bitterroot site—one of the best sites on the Internet.

How kind of you to say so!

Really, I am a bit old school. I read books. I studied Aristotle and literary structure in grad school. Other than explaining certain industry standards, how-to books on writing are not saying anything new.

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

I love music and use it sometimes to help me with problem solving. Music, though, tends to be a distraction to me. I prefer to turn it off during composition.

Tell us a little about your path to publication.

Like most writers, I tried the big guys first. I got tired of form letters rejecting me. Even more depressing were the personal notes telling me how clearly talented I was. Everyone gets those. They are meaningless. Meaningful is: we want to publish your book. It is like asking a girl out on a date. If she says how sweet you are, but she has a boyfriend (or has recently broken up with one) and would love to stay friends—it is a rejection; it is personal; and she does not want to be friends.

I looked long and hard at smaller, POD, houses. Some of them are simply vanity presses. I am too vain to use one of them. I also do not have the money to self publish.

Dragonfly and I courted each other. They were not interested in bringing in anything new at the time, but we started talking, emailing. We ‘flirted’ with each other for some weeks before I even sent them any part of the book. Even then, their reader suggested not publishing it. The publisher disagreed. At about the same time, another publisher offered to publish the book in one volume. It struck me that Dragonfly was spending more time trying to make my book better; the other publisher apparently wanted to publish it ‘as is.’ Not that it was not brilliant ‘as-was,’ but it is better now.

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

My last year has pretty much been spent working on the three Rosi’s Doors books. Then I went into overdrive to polish and prep the plays. I do teach college part time (me and Indiana Jones), but my job has recently been ‘writer.’ I like that.

My favorite memory of each of them is opening the box with my first copy in it. I am a firm believer in eBooks. I love them. Those readers who wax on about the mystical connection between the reader and the paper are full of nonsense (I am using my polite vocabulary here). However, there is something really cool about walking into my living room and seeing my four (soon to be five) books spread out on the coffee table. Okay, it is pretty cool to see my book in someone’s queue, but it is not quite the same. I understand that on a certain level, the existence of e-copies of my books make them essentially immortal; however, there is a feeling of permanence to seeing a hard copy.

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

Right now, I am working on several pieces.

Hector and Achilles is a verse drama. It has been written in the same style as Orpheus and Eurydice but is much more ambitious, not only theatrically, but thematically and structurally. I am several drafts into it. In fact, on this very day that I am writing this sentence, the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble will be doing a reading of the play. I have worked on several of their shows before and will go and listen to their reading and their comments.

Last Call. This is a verse novel. It is about a group expats and locals in Oman that gathers together at a hotel bar the night before Ramadan (during which all the bars and liquor stores in the country are closed). It is a story of damaged people who damage those around them. The verse form is similar to that of my two plays; however, it is narrative rather than dramatic.

I just began another verse novel. I have no title for it—or, rather, I have had several titles, but none has stuck. It is about the Civil War. I do not want to describe it too much, yet. The verse form is based loosely on the classic Tamil poetic form of Kural.

Those sound fascinating, particularly Last Call. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?

A study at a major university was recently done. The conclusion was that reading my books (and those of Babs/Lyndi) will make you smarter, richer, better looking, a better lover, and your spouse better looking.
So, what are you waiting for?



How I met my hero

Welcome, Ash Krafton, with the first in her new series about the Demimonde! Don’t forget to enter her contest–take it away, Ash!

by guest author Ash Krafton

I’ve always had a thing for museums. When I was a kid, my mother would take my siblings and me to the Everhart Museum in Scranton, PA. It’s a natural history museum located near Nay Aug Park, once a thriving zoo and mini-amusement park. Those trips to the park and museum are among my strongest childhood memories, when I was too young to pronounce “museum” properly. (I called it a “mu-sam” and, trust me, it wasn’t because I had a region accent. I was just a goofy kid.)
I never outgrew my fondness for museums. Overtime, I developed a distinct preference for archaeology and ancient cultures, encouraged by my high school World Cultures class. Although I really got into Roman and Greek studies, my favorite culture of them all was ancient Egypt.
Up until college, the Everhart was my only regular museum. However, once I started college in Philadelphia…well, you can just imagine how ecstatic I was to discover Philly’s museums and their treasures.
Lucky for me, I also met my husband in college—a fortuitous event in itself. He also enjoys museums and science/tech centers and had been spoiling me rotten ever since. Now, we’re the parents of two middle school-aged kids who practically grew up amongst mummies and sarcophagi and the images of gods and pharaohs.
When I wrote Bleeding Hearts, I couldn’t help but put a piece of my love for Egypt into the story. As I wrote it, I began to create a mythology of my own, penning the words that eventually became the origin of my demivampires.
It wasn’t too hard to decide where I was going to meet my hero, Marek. The scene was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to the Penn Museum’s Egyptian exhibit. In a way, the scene is a reminder of one of our dates (few enough since we became parents) so this excerpt is extra-special to me. This except was also a finalist in the “Magic Moments” 2011 contest hosted by the RWA Heart and Scroll Chapter.
First meets are so important. I couldn’t wish anything but the loveliest for my main character, Sophie. I care about her too much! After all, wouldn’t you do the same for somebody you love?

Thanks for having me, Lyndi! I’d like to remind everyone that the Bleeding Hearts Blog Tour will continue until April 14, 2012. I’m being hosted by a wonderful group of bloggers and authors like our lovely Lyndi Alexander here. Be sure to check out the other stops along the tour for other posts about Bleeding Hearts and be sure to enter the huge end-of-tour prize package!
Good luck to everyone who enters and thanks for celebrating my new book with me!

Find out more about Ash and her tour at the links below:





BLEEDING HEARTS: Book One of the Demimonde

Saving the world one damned person at a time—shy advice columnist-turned-oracle must find a way to save her dangerous demivampire lover from the fate that threatens each of his race: evolution and the destruction of his soul.

When advice columnist Sophie meets dark and alluring Marek, she learns life-changing secrets about them both—he’s a demivampire struggling to avoid evolution and she’s an empathic oracle destined to save him. Sophie possesses the rare ability to reduce the spiritual damage that causes a demivamp to Fall, making her the only thing that stands between a DV and evolution. However, as Marek’s dangerous past propels him toward his desperate fate, his enemies make darker plans for him: once vampire, powerful Marek would be second only to the Master himself. The vamps want to cause Marek’s Fall and they intend to use Sophie to do it….

Ash’s excerpt!
In the great hall housing the Egyptian exhibitions, I immediately noted the change in the atmosphere. The room was warm and dry, its climate controlled to mimic the conditions in which the relics had existed in their native land.
The entire room had been designed to resemble an Old Kingdom temple. The main lights were dimmed while strategically-placed spotlights emphasized massive columns and magnificent wall carvings, like sunbeams through temple windows.
I scanned the room. No other tourists. Even better. I meandered, enjoying the rare opportunity to linger.
Craning my neck, I ran my gaze up each of the columns, reading the images, admiring the palm leaves carved at the tops like great stone trees. Eyes toward the ceilings, I turned slowly around, admiring the handiwork of the ancient artists.
What was it like to live in those lands and those times? Could an ancient version of my spirit have been there, stepping barefoot and silently through a sandy temple like this one?
Lost in contemplation, I was completely unprepared for the shock of smacking into someone, bumping him hard enough to lose my balance. I’d have fallen had he not caught my arm. Wide-eyed with consternation, I stammered an apology to the handsome but serious-faced gentleman.
“You are not hurt, I hope?” His voice, deep and smooth, sent shivers marching down my neck, between my shoulders, down my spine.
“I’m okay.” I shook my head, too shy to make direct eye contact, wishing I’d checked my hair and lipstick before coming in. “I’m far too adept at being inept.”
He flashed a grin and I caught a glimpse of nice white teeth. “Temples are places for spiritual reflection. It is forgivable if your vision was turned inward, rather than toward where you were walking.”
His expression softened by amusement, he tilted his head toward the pillars. “Majestic, aren’t they?”
I stole another glance at him—black hair smoothed back into a discrete tail, clear light skin framed by long sideburns, strong jaw culminating in a square, cleft chin. Like the other items in the museum, something about him made me want to look closer, inspect each detail.
A subtle flush warmed my cheeks and ears so I quickly turned back to the heights of the exhibition. Murmuring a sound of agreement, I circled the column, stepping a few feet away so I could see both him and the stone. “Do you visit this museum often?”
Furtive glances allowed me to take in more of his appearance a tiny section at a time. Clothing, dark as his hair. Long blazer, something in between a suit coat and an overcoat. In one hand he carried a bound book and fountain pen, as if he’d been making notes.
Unlike my own, his gaze was calm and steady and entirely on me. Taking a deep breath I permitted the contact of the direct look. My boldness was well-rewarded. His Paul Newman lips brought to mind the sculptured busts on display in the Greco-Roman Quarters and he wore a stern expression that cast a veil of hardness upon his features, enhancing the impression he’d been carved from marble.
Except for his eyes. The Roman busts bore eyes that were blank and white but this man’s eyes were alive with bright green color. Like gemstones, they glittered and drew my gaze.
“No, actually,” he said. “My first time here. Although, I admit, I’m drawn to places like this.” His voice made music of the words—deep bass notes and soothing rhythm.
“Ah!” I said. “A man after my own heart.” His left eyebrow arched so sharply I thought it might disappear into his hairline and I hurriedly continued. “Are you a professor?”
“No, nothing like that. I do studying of my own, it’s not a living. It’s more of a hobby. Personal research, of sorts.”
“I like to study past times for past-times. It’s my preferred form of entertainment.”
“Mmm.” Eyebrow cocked again, he cast a disapproving look at me and swept his hand around the contrived temple. “Would the gods be pleased to know they are reduced to the level of entertainment?”
“I hope so.” I kept my tone light. Considering the seriousness of his expression, I didn’t want to accidentally insult him. “Otherwise, they’d have to be content with staying dead, right?”
His gaze swept over me and I shivered again as if the touch had been tangible, a brush of fingertips against my cheek.
“Well, I’ll leave you to your worship. I mean, your wanderings.” He gave me a conspirator’s wink. “Unless…”
He hesitated, a quiet clearing of throat as he tucked his notebook and pen into an inside pocket. “You wouldn’t mind a companion? Sometimes one sees things differently when seeing through another’s eyes. I always appreciative a new perspective.”
I mulled it over, listening to the rain spattering the windows and distant voices echoing faintly from other rooms. Although I’d looked forward to a quiet afternoon, it might be nice to spend it with someone who seemed to share my interests. He certainly was attractive, in a dark and hard way, and his pleasant voice intrigued me.
I realized I’d become used to living inside a shell. This man made me want to step outside for once.
“I’d like that.” I smiled at his pleased expression. “I’m Sophie, by the way.” I stuck out my hand in introduction, offering my firmest professional handshake.
Instead of shaking my hand, he bent his head over it and pressed polite lips to the backs of my fingers. The quaint gesture would have seemed strange and out of place had we been elsewhere. “I am Marek. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Fingers tingling from the unexpected kiss, I fought the urge to curtsy. “Well, Marek. Lead me into the past.”

Gwen Perkins mixes fantasy with romance and reality

Thanks to author Gwen Perkins 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?

Thank you so much for the interview, Lyndi. I’m honored to be featured on your website!

To tell you a little bit about myself, I live in Tacoma, Washington with my partner and our three children. So far as writing addictions go, my sole vice is coffee as one might expect from a Northwesterner. The coffeepot rarely shuts off at the Perkins house! I’m also fond of music while I write and frequently switch musical genres, depending on the scene that I’m writing.

I work in a local museum which is wonderful for ideas—I spend a lot of time listening to people tell stories and unearthing lost tales myself to share them with others. (What a day job for a writer!)

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?

My educational background is in military history. I hadn’t intended my education to complement my writing, however, I’ve found that it definitely enriches it. This has been particularly true as I work on my second novel which focuses on more martial characters than the first.

Tell us about your most recent publication!

My most recent publication is The Universal Mirror which came out in February of this year. Mirror is a fantasy novel with more than a bit of romance at its heart.

The Universal Mirror is about two friends, Quentin and Asahel, who decide to defy the laws of their country so that they can practice magic on the human body. This quest starts with Quentin and his wife, Catharine. Catharine was stricken with plague as a child and horribly disfigured,to the point where she refuses to believe that anyone can love her. Quentin, who is in love with his wife, wants to heal her because he believes that if he can make her physically beautiful, she will finally accept his feelings for her. This motivation leads to a number of different realizations—and problems—throughout the course of the novel. (I won’t say too much here to avoid spoiling you!)

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

There are a few different things that inspired this story, some based in research, others in personal experience. One of the strongest influences on it has been raising teenage girls (and a younger son). After hearing my middle daughter complain that there were no positive overweight characters in fiction, I realized how much physical beauty plays apart in fantasy novels. I wanted to present characters who were lovable and believable even if they weren’t physically attractive.

I also wanted to create a story in which someone’s negative self-perception didn’t, in fact, mirror the perception of others around them. (This was something that I myself struggled with in my youth.) Quentin genuinely does love Catharine and would if she had no face at all—however,she’s so conditioned to think that attractive men only love a pretty face that she can’t believe it. And, you know,based on the comments made by both my daughters after reading it, I think that my point was made.

So far as other research goes, I spent a lot of time reading about medieval medicine and looking at the small details of medieval life. I wanted the world of Cercia to be real and yet relatable. Grounding it in our own history made that work for me and also enabled me to come up with tiny details to enhance the reader’s immersion in my story.

How would you best describe your books?

They’re fantasy novels with strong romantic overtones and a dash of adventure. I love books that don’t stick to the formula of their genre and I’ve tried to do that with mine. You won’t find all of the traditional fantasy elements in my novels but you will see love and relationships tested, swordfights, and a bit of humor sprinkled throughout.

I also try to keep them at a shorter length like the fantasy novels I was fond of when I was younger. While I love longer epics, there is something to be said for having a short novel that you can relax with for a few hours. Not all of us always have time to spend months on a book!

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favorite genres to write are fantasy, horror, and science fiction (in that order) though I love a strong romantic subplot. As far as reading goes, I’ll read anything if it’s got compelling characters and a good plot. I’m a very character-driven reader and writer and that’s often what pulls me into a series.

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

The stories that I’m writing now, to be honest. I love the world and characters that I’ve created. There is so much story that I’ve yet to tell.

What do you love most about writing and what do you not like?

I love being able just to lose myself in my own imagination for awhile, writing about people and places that don’t exist in our world. I also love seeing the effect that my writing has on people and engaging in conversations with readers.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

There is a writing group on Facebook for fantasy writers that I’m very fond of. I’ve gotten so much feedback and inspiration from the folks on there! I also have a number of close friends who write and while there isn’t a structured group that I work with, per se, I’ve learned a lot from those individuals.

As far as writing websites that I find useful, I often enjoy reading Ralan’s, io9,and blogs by individual writers/reviewers (John Scalzi and Andrew Liptak, for instance).

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

It depends on the scene that I’m writing and sometimes, on thecharacters. I find myself varying the music depending on the emotions involved. If I’m going to write a romance scene, I’m more likely to play soft music or a song with heartfelt lyrics that sums up the relationship. For fight scenes, I like heavy drums (Bear McCreary (of Battlestar Galactica fame) compositions are a big inspiration of mine in that regard).

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

The Universal Mirror is both the first book that I’ve written and the first book that I’ve published. I’v ewritten for a number of encyclopedias and academic publications, as well as published the occasional short story, but Mirror was something of an adventure.

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

I looked at a number of different publishers. Ultimately, I decided to submit to small presses and focus on those as I wanted a little more freedom in writing my books than I thought that a larger press would allow.

Hydra won out because I felt really confident after exchanging emails with the publisher that they would respect my wishes and be a true partner in the publication of my novel. I’m very glad to report that I was right. I’ve been consulted on every aspect of the book and my wishes and ideas are always respected. While I could be wrong, I don’t feel that a first-time author often has that experience with some of the bigger presses. Also, the group of authors at Hydra is one ofthe warmest, most supportive teams that I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve learned and am still learning so much from them.

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

My favorite thing about my book is the characters. They evoke strong emotions in me even now. I’ll freely admit that there were times when I disliked my main characters even while I loved them but I think that’s a sign that they became very real to me.

One of the most special memories I have of the creation of the book is when I saw the cover art for the first time. Enggar [Adirasa] really captured a moment of Mirror perfectly in his painting. It was awe-inspiring to see that an artist would take the story that I’d written and create something so beautiful from it in return.

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

I’m currently writing the last part of the sequel to The Universal Mirror. This book, entitled The Jealousy Glass, takes place a year later and follows two of the characters to a new land. I’m working on lining up some appearances at conventions over the summer—the best place to find out where I’ll be appearing is to follow me on your social media outlet ofchoice. They’re all listed at the book’s website, http://theuniversalmirror.com.

What would you like to tell readers?

I love to make connections so please don’t be shy about looking me up! I can be reached pretty easily and I do love to “friend” people, so don’t hesitate to drop me a request. If you read the book, feel free to shoot me an email about it. I may take a little bit of time to respond as I work full-time and have a family but I’ll definitely make every effort!

Thanks for being with us today, Gwen, and best wishes!

Aliens and conspiracies: Linda Andrews brings them both to her writing

Thanks to author Linda Andrews for being with us today! First, would you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Linda Andrews and I write paranormal, fantasy and scifi romance, plus the occasional horror story. Growing up I never wanted to be a writer but one day I was bitten by the writer bug. Of course, I was always one to tell stories. Just ask my mom:-) I live with my husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. Currently, I have 4 cats and 1 dog, plus a fish.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I hate coffee, but love tea. Neither is a must have while I’m writing, only water, preferably with lots of ice. My true writer’s addiction is music. I have to have music on.

What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you?

I have a BS in Biological Sciences (A BS in BS!). Since most of what I’ve written in my professional life is very cut and dried SOPs and technical reports, it is hard for me to add those details that bring a story to life. My critique partners are constantly asking me to add some setting here and there. Of course, when I write the SciFi stuff, the degree comes in real handy. Do you need a degree to write? Nope. If you want to know things and are willing to research a topic, then you should be able to tell a really good story that can stand up to scrutiny.

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Blue Maneuver is an urban scifi novel set in Phoenix. I loved that I combined my science background with my love of conspiracies and pure imagination. Here’s the blurb:

The extraterrestrials have landed and they’re human.
Rae Hemplewhite didn’t believe in aliens until a close encounter with out-of-this-world technology drags her into the extraterrestrial security program. Helping alien refugees adjust to life on Earth is difficult enough, but her first clients have a price on their heads. Plus, her new partner seems torn between the urge to kiss her or kill her.
And that’s the good news.
The bad news: Alliances are forming in deep space. If Rae doesn’t keep her witnesses alive long enough to transfer their top secret information to the right faction of humanity, Earth will become a battlefield.

How would you best describe your books?

Real characters in skewed realities. I like fully fleshed characters but I like to twist what you’d expect to happen or the world that they live in. Rae, my heroine in Blue Maneuver, hates technology and scifi. Who better to give advanced technology and make her a witness security coordinator for aliens on Earth?

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

Romance is my favorite to read and write, but I get bored fairly easily so I tend to read and write in a variety of genres to keep things fresh and interesting.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?

The hardest part for me is filling up the blank page. That blinking cursor mocks me. I love the editing. It’s where the story can really shine. Plus the cursor hides next to words, making it harder to see.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve been writing since 1997 and published since 2003, but it wasn’t until I attended a writer’s conference in 2006 that I decided I wanted to be known as an author. Science is still in my blood and I don’t know if I’ll ever give up benchwork, but I’ve made peace with my creative side.

Do you belong to any writing groups?

I belong to Romance Writers of America, the local chapter–Valley of the Sun Romance Writers and Indie Romance Writers Ink.

Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

There are so many websites devoted to the craft of writing, I couldn’t possible begin to list any of them. But I lots of them bookmarked. My two favorites are about body language and a slang dictionary.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

I used to belong to two critique groups. Both provided valuable insights into improving my story and I would take them all. Not a good thing. My voice became so distorted and I lost track of the story. I ended up dropping out of one group. Critique groups are great things, just make sure you are true to your writer’s voice and story.

How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?

Currently I have 4 publishers and myself. I have 4 short stories available and 12 novels. I wrote one very, very bad book and started two others before selling.

How did you find a publisher?

Writers groups are the best at finding publishers and the skinny on said publishers.

How did you receive the Call?

Actually, I missed the original call. Liz Burton, my editor at Zumaya Publications, sent me an email requesting the full of my book Ghost of a Chance. I never got the email and after 3 months she sent another one which I did get. I walked on air for 3 days afterward and felt even better because she liked the novel so much she followed up.

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

My favorite thing about Blue Maneuver was weaving in the myths of Atlantis and the Lights over Phoenix into the story line. I wrote the book in two and a half months over Christmas and practically every chapter there was a line that made me giggle at the subtext.

What are you writing now?

Right now, I’m supposed to be finishing the last chapter of a Valentine’s Day book scheduled to be released by Zumaya Publications next year. Then I’m off to finish the dark apocalyptic series of novels that started with Redaction.

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

I’ll be speaking and signing at my Valley of the Sun chapter meeting in April. One person asked me to speak about bioterrorism, but because so many became scared from the last one, I decided to change things up a bit by talking about how to add realism to your novels using history.

Are you, too, ‘Relatively Romantic’?

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?

My name is Ermintrude Perdy! I’m from Northwestern Pennsylvania, born and raised and still very much attached to. I come from a very large family, all still residing in Northwestern Pennsylvania as well. As a family we’re very creative in many ways. Each person seems to have their own artistic skill, or creative skill, lending to a pretty well-rounded group. We have artists of the painting variety, a few writers, musicians, designers, and even into the technically creative, like engineering both buildings and vehicles.

Though I’m educated in a creative field, it was a technical school that I went to and I don’t have any degrees at all. I tried college after high school and foolishly went into a field that lacked any creative aspects which led me to dislike my college experience to the point of leaving after my first year. I’ve fancied taking some classes in literature or creative writing, but everything I’ve ever written I’ve done so without having had help from classes or without toting about that lovely diploma. This isn’t to say that I won’t pursue something in the future, but at the moment it’s not in my cards.

Not coffee, but TEA! I really can’t get anything done without first having a cup of tea in the morning, and of course when I say cup I mean massive mug filled practically to the brim. I try to temper it by only having one or two regular cups and following that with herbal or caffeine-free varieties. Writers still have to sleep sometimes.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

My very first publication is so far my only publication and I’m very excited about it! Though I love full-length novels and in-depth stories, I’ve found that creating such universes, personally, takes a lot of time. I’ve been writing since I was a teen and still haven’t completed a novel-length manuscript (a decent, well-rounded one).

I decided to turn my attention to the short stories I’ve been writing, either as exercises to try and get my mind going, or to participate in friendly group contests. I’d never considered a short story compilation before, but so many people insisted that the shorts were wonderful and that’s when I got the idea for my “Ermintrude Perdy’s” collections.

The first collection of what I hope will be many is Ermintrude Perdy’s Relatively Romantic Short Stories. And as the title suggests, it is a collection of three of my favorite relatively romantic short stories that I’ve written in the past year.

Why Relatively Romantic? Well, I’ve never been much of a romantic myself, but I do love love. I’m definitely not a hopeless romantic. Each story in the Collection views love a little differently, and not all of them in a sappy, romantic kind of way. I really wanted to show the struggles that a lot of people go through at times, especially young women in this era who are more independent and more focused on being successful and true to themselves.

One such story, “The Bells are Ringing,” I think shows a situation that many people don’t want to acknowledge. The main character, whom in the beginning was very much in love with her fiancé, is essentially being forced to change who she is to suit her partner’s ideal. I think it really shows how some people are so desperate to love and be loved in return that they’re willing to conform to whatever their current partner wants. It is an important aspect of love and romance that is almost taboo, and I wanted very much bring it to light, for myself and others.

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 was inspired by many different things. Most often the lives and happenings of my friends and those close to me (and, I admit, myself) inspire a lot of my work.

“The Bells are Ringing” was inspired by the tellings of many different friends and family members, as well as a situation in my own life, that culminated into one absolutely horrifying nightmare! At least, for me it was horrifying. I couldn’t even get back to sleep after.

“Shores of Ireland” was by far my favorite to write out of the three. It was in part inspired by a movie (even though the only relation to the movie is the fact that it’s in Ireland), and a discussion I had with my mother. She mentioned something about wishing she could take the time to learn how to fix all our broken household appliances, to which I responded in like about how wonderful it would be to take classes in home repair. Thus was born “Shores of Ireland,” the story of a young American woman, heiress to a corporation that specialized in building and restoration, who escapes a terrible situation at home and stumbles upon Danny and his crumbling Irish pub.

This story was the most fun to write because of all the research I put into it. I spent a lot of time looking at maps and getting a good idea of rural areas with a sandy coastline in which the pub could be placed. I also thoroughly enjoyed my search for Irish slang and incorporating it into my story. I’m no expert, but now, should I ever go to Ireland, at least I have a heads up on some terms and phrases I might hear!

“Sketchbooks and Friday Sunsets” is a heap of campy goodness! I have a few friends that are absolute hopeless romantics. Listening to them go on about racing hearts and sweaty palms and how everything just looks brighter and more beautiful when you’re in love really inspired me to write this over exaggerated, campy short story.

How would you best describe your books?

For this book in particular the stories really reflect a lot of real life experiences. Now, obviously, I haven’t run away to Ireland and found a pub to save with my immense fortune (oh! If only!) but the message of the story is still very real. The stories each tackle romance from a different point of view, expressing it in ways that people tend to forget about in favor of sonnets and flowery words, handsome men and swooning women. Not that there’s anything wrong with handsome men, but I’m not the swooning type! I think these stories express romance in an unromantic way. I like that.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favorite genre is Fantasy. I love creating my own universes and the people and places in them. For me, fantasy really gets my creativity flowing because of all the possibilities. It’s an endless sort of genre where anything is possible so I can take all the crazy, unrealistic ideas in my noggin and make a world where all of that could very well be the norm.

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

Since I write for myself I’m not limited to any one thing. I can write anything I want. I suppose, however, that if I could be good at writing something new, I’d like to be able to write mysteries. They’re so tantalizing and exciting, but I’m just so horrible at keeping secrets!

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

My favorite thing about writing is being able to create anything I want. I love being able to fill my seas with mermaids and my skies with dragons! So often do I have wild and crazy dreams filled with things that couldn’t possibly happen in every-day life. Writing is my way of creating these universes and bringing them to life as much as I can.

My least favorite part of writing…hmm…probably the editing. Sometimes I feel as though it takes me longer to edit the story than it does to actually write it. Then, of course, there’s that horrible writer’s block. Being unable to create that next great chapter in a story is awful and sometimes it lasts for weeks, or even months!

I first knew I wanted to be an author when I was very young, probably about seven. I absolutely loved reading, my mother having taught me very early, and I always had an overactive imagination. I remember one day in the school library, while I was searching for a book I hadn’t read that might catch my interest, when I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a story like this…” Then I figured, if there wasn’t, why don’t I write it myself? I’ve wanted to be an author ever since.

What do you love most about writing and what do you not like?

I love being able to create my own world and situations and characters to put in them. One of my favorite parts of writing my stories is creating the characters, bringing them to life with their appearances, personalities, and names.

I can get very frustrated with my writing. It’s not always easy to convey exactly what’s going on in my mind and if I don’t write it out just right, then sometimes the events aren’t happening exactly as I’d like them to. Sometimes there’s a lot of deleting and rewriting, and sitting and thinking about the different ways things could be explained. Very frustrating.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

Unfortunately, no. I’ve been meaning to find groups and get involved for awhile now, but I’m always so busy that it’s difficult to find time to attend group meetings and gatherings. I’ve also found that my age makes joining groups difficult. I’m at a point in life where sometimes people don’t always take me seriously because I’m still so young, however, groups with people younger than myself don’t seem to take things very seriously at all. But I’m working on it! It’s always good to have a group of fellow writers.

I haven’t found any writing websites that are particularly useful. Not for writing itself, anyway. There are a few forum sites that I frequent where writers join in and discuss the nuances of creating a well-rounded story, critique work, and help each other through rough spots, but they aren’t specific to writing. I usually just speak to a few people I know outside of the sites.

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

When it comes to music for inspiration, I usually listen to songs that have a mood similar to what I’m writing. For instance, a few Irish themed songs and some similar in sound helped lend to the inspiration for “Shores of Ireland.” Sometimes, however, I’ll hear a song that could have nothing to do with the topic but it gets my mind working and helps me along. Very rarely do I write without music playing in the background.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

I don’t, but sometimes I wish I did. I have friends that I can count on for good feedback, but I think having someone who isn’t very familiar with me read and critique my work would be a huge benefit. They’ll tell it to me straight, hopefully in a constructive way, to help me improve. There’s always room for improvement.

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

Relatively Romantic is my first publication. I’ve been writing for some time, but haven’t fully completed any novel-length manuscripts. A lot of the short stories I’ve written, I’ve done as writing exercises, to help pull myself out of a block, or to simply try something different. Since I have so many and am quite pleased with them, I decided to start my adventure by self-publishing short story compilations. However, I hope in the future I’ll be good enough to sign with a good publishing house.

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

My favorite things about the stories in Relatively Romantic would have to be how different they are. I often find that a lot of romances tend to focus on the woman being a classic “damsel in distress” and her knight in shining armor just appears. While for some that might be the ideal romance, I’m sure there are plenty of women like myself who chuckle at the thought and want nothing more than to hold their own and find someone to simply share that with.

“Shores of Ireland” is the only one that really portrays this. While Danny did help Kendall by giving her a place to stay, she similarly assisted him by repaying his kindness and restoring his pub, bringing her expertise and experience and in the end, her fortune, to save the building he loved so much. I like the idea of the woman occasionally being the Knight in Shining Armor, riding in on her White Horse (or, in Kendall’s case, her inherited Fortune 500 business). The woman can be just as strong as the man and the idea shouldn’t be balked at.

Similarly, I like portraying the nitty-gritty side of things. People will sacrifice a lot of themselves when they think they’re in love and will do just about anything to keep it. In “The Bells are Ringing” I wanted to write about what I see so often in a lot of young women when they think they’re so in love and convince themselves that all the change in the world is okay so long as their love stays with them. Is becoming a completely different person worth it? Kat was losing her identity and allowing her fiancé to mold her into something she wasn’t. In the end, she had to decide if hating herself forever was worth it. I’ve had too many friends experience a love like this to not write about it. Romance isn’t always pretty.

What would you like to tell readers?

I just want to thank everyone for all their time and support. As a new author it means the world to me. Thank you, all!

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: http://RedTash.com

For a signed copy, video reviews, a color map of the Bloomington setting & more: http://redtash.com/ThisBrilliantDarkness


Ready for a contest? Red Tash will be here Friday!

Come for the interview–stay for the giveaway!

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 DenverLadyJane.com . 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 JessicaAspen.com.

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: www.edwardeaton.com

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 rosisdoors.com 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.

Mysterious fascination–Jennifer Oberth!

Thanks to Jennifer Oberth 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?

I live in Chicago– born and bred. I’ve got two adorable little kitten monsters named Copper& Outlaw. (I’m a diehard mystery fan, can you tell?) I never drink coffee but I’m unabashedly addicted to chocolate.
I’ve heard that some people with degrees and all those letters after their name can’t write a term paper to save their lives so I don’t think a diploma necessarily represents what it’s supposed to, what it used to. I went to college. The thing you should know about me is that I loathed school every single day of every single year and I made it all the way through two and a half years of college before realizing I was never going to use the degree I was spending money on. (I majored in Philosophy.) I aced English, I aced most of my classes and even did above 99% on one of those state or national exams in the English subject section. I was a great student, I just despised it. Education is a wonderful thing but we ought to remember it doesn’t just come from school or all those letters after our name. We’re more than that. We have to be open to and learn from the experiences of life.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

Married To Murder is the first Ella Westin mystery. I’ve also published Honeymoon Homicide and will publish Toxic Train in the next few weeks. I’m very excited because I just got Masked Rider: Origins back from my editor. This is the novel series that led to the birth of Ella Westin. Which is really cool because she’s my protagonists’ grandmother and the series is set 40+ years previous. My short stories and novels run to mystery/humor/adventure. I love a good mystery and I love to laugh so that’s what I tend to write.

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

I wrote a mystery novel, Masked Rider: Origins that I’m going to publish soon. It’s set in 1875 and centers around Holly and Jackson Westin – two of Ella’s grandchildren. I was working on the Westin family tree, the kind of work an author does that the public never sees, when I decided to take advantage of the eBook world, put my hard work to good use, used my notes to write a story of the grandparents’ wedding day and published Married To Murder.
It’s interesting because five years ago, in the traditional publishing world, we never would have got to meet Ella and Joe Westin. We’d never have seen them get married or go on their honeymoon or move into their first house. The back story would have stayed in back and we’d never have met these cool characters.
One interesting thing I learned while writing the Masked Rider series (set in 1875) and then the Ella Westin Mysteries (set in 1827) is how much of our language and even our slang is from back then. There are words or phrases I don’t use because they sound too modern even though they’ve been in use since the 1700′s!

How would you best describe your books?
Mystery/Humor and the Masked Rider series is definitely Mystery/Humor/Adventure.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

Mysteries. Plain and simple, my favorite books to read are mysteries. Okay, I’ll add cozy mysteries. And my favorite of the favorite is humorous cozy mysteries – which also happens to be what I write.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?

What I like most is the fun. There’s a lot of effort that goes into creating a world and populating it with people but getting to use my imagination for work has got to be the best and coolest thing I get to do.
What I like the least used to be editing. The blank page never scared me – it was the one with words all over it that scream for perfection. I’ve learned to face it head on and realize it can be almost as creative as the actual writing part. (I still wouldn’t give up my professional editor for anything.)
Now, my least favorite part is formatting. It’s as precise as math or html – if you get it wrong, it won’t work and it doesn’t tell you why. It’s time consuming, not very fun and frankly, quite annoying.

What would you like to tell readers?

I hope your readers will try out Married To Murder. If you go to Smashwords, you can check out 50%of the story and see if you like it before you plunk down the 99 cents! You can download it to any eReading device you have. (You don’t need to sign up with Smashwords or even have an eReader to read the sample.)
And obscurity is the arch enemy of the writer. If you read a book you love, consider reviewing it. In this new e-world we’re all living in, and creating as we go, it allows other readers to have an idea if they’d like the story; if they should give it a chance. A lot of people are rightfully concerned there’s no quality control anymore and this includes traditionally published books which have a team of editors and cover artists on the author’s side. The average reader now holds the power to share their opinion with other readers –and not just mom or Aunt Joan or neighbor Tim but complete strangers. And that’s fantastic.
Thank you Lyndi!

More fantasy goodness!

The incomparable Carrie James Haynes has released Whispers of a Legend, Part Two- The Path Now Turned. Book One is now free at B&N (see below)–get caught up with this fantasy tale in time to put the new release on your Christmas list!

Amazon link-


Barnes and Noble link-


Smashwords link- http://www.smashwords.com/​books/view/108794

Whispers of a Legend, Part One- Shadows of the Past is FREE!

Is free at Barnes and Noble- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/​w/​whispers-of-a-legend-part-one-s​hadows-of-the-past-carrie-jame​s-haynes/​1107044699?ean=2940032814665&it​m=1&usri=whispers+of+a+legend+​part+one

Smashwords- http://www.smashwords.com/​books/view/96228

Speculative Fiction’s Fascination with Green Beings

Continuing our fascination with science fiction this week, and especially because my new hero is a green-skinned reptilian shapeshifter, the Clan Elves welcome author Bryce Ellicott! Take it away, Bryce!

I have always found our collective fascination with “little green men” to be, well, fascinating. Not so much the “little” part, but the “green” part. The meme of green aliens permeates science fiction, but also appears in other forms in folk tales and ancient mythology. Why are we so enthralled with this idea?

For the purposes of this post, I define “alien” very broadly, because I believe the basis for this fixation goes deep into time and into the human psyche. Humans have always had a feeling of strange “aliens” in their midst. The idea of aliens being intelligent life forms from another planet is rather new. Humans have envisioned other sorts of aliens, like fairies, spirits, gods, and monsters. Sagan discussed this concept in his book The Demon Haunted World. I hardly have space here to consider the huge idea of why we invent strange aliens in the first place, but I do want to briefly ponder why they are so often so specifically green.

Most cultures throughout history have noted the obvious, common color of green in nature. So it is not surprising that many cultures have placed the same meaning and symbolism on green, including birth, growth, sustenance, the cycles of nature, and then rebirth in the afterlife. These processes were full of mystery to the ancients (and to us, still) and so green became not only the color of the natural, but also the supernatural. For example, worship of the Egyptian god Osiris is recorded as early as around 2400 BCE. Osiris, the god of nature, rebirth and the afterlife, was often depicted with green skin.

This is a particularly strong symbol in Anglo, Saxon, and Celtic cultures. The forest fairies were green, and certainly the Green Man mythology centers around this symbolism. Originally, this green color was considered good – wild – but good. The pagan religious that grew up around it believed the green forest denizens were protectors and guides of the natural world. There is a theory that suggests it was Christianity’s arrival in the Celtic world that changed green from a more positive, natural symbol into one that was just as often malevolent and demon related. The early Church took a negative view of the color since honoring and worshiping the green folk and their ilk was decidedly against its ideology. So eventually in the Isles, green colored creatures also became something dangerous and evil, such as twisted wild fairies, pernicious monsters like goblins, and green-skinned witches. These ideas were in place by 1400 CE, as indicated by tales such as “Gawain and the Green Knight” where ancient tales and symbols meld with Christian ones.

As the known replaced the unknown, places like forests became less mysterious. But we humans simply moved our “aliens” to the next strange frontier such as distant islands, deep jungles, and the bottom of the ocean. The birth of modern science made it seem as if humans might eventually be able to replicate all the processes of nature – and one result was the quickening of the genre of science fiction with Shelly’s Frankenstein in 1818. Frankenstein defies nature and creates life from death, piecing together his monster in a way that echoes how Isis pieced together the body of Osiris.

Into this new genre stepped authors like Verne and Wells, who had visions of travels to distant lands, and even distant planets. By 1880, Schaparelli had already named the major features he observed on Mars as “continents” and “seas”. That same year Greg published Across the Zodiac, where a traveler finds small humanoids populating that planet. With the 1899 Green Boy of Hurrah, and Burroughs’ 1906 A Princess of Mars, amongst other stories, the small alien humanoids in the public imagination were nearly universally green.

As science fiction continued to explore its love for green aliens, high fantasy was born with Tolkien between The Hobbit in the mid 1930′s and The Lord of the Rings in the mid 1950′s. It was out of the mix of the symbolism of the Isles that Tolkien drew the heart of his Middle Earth, especially his creatures, including goblins, orcs, elves, ents and entwives, and dwarves. The elves, associated with the green forests, were mystical, ethereal, powerful, immortal, and generally good. But the green skinned orcs (apparently once elves) were twisted, violent, malignant, and evil. This is a striking parallel to the clash between pagan and church ideas in the old Celtic lands.

From that point, it isn’t so hard to see how the trope or meme continued to expand. Today our speculative genres are filled with green creatures. Whether science fiction, fantasy or horror, there are little green men from Mars, green orcs, and green creatures from the black lagoon. We remain fascinated with the greenies. I, personally, trace it all back to that first green connection with the mysterious. We paint green those creatures who we, as authors, want to have a mystical, supernatural, or hyper-scientific power over nature, over life, and over death.

This is hardly a scientific study, merely my own thoughts presenting one possible reason why we fixate so strongly, and even adore, our green aliens. I have a species of green aliens in my sci-fi universe, too. And overused meme or not, they are there to stay. What are your thoughts?


(picture used with permission from Deviant Art)

FEVER: It’s coming!

Welcome today to my guest, Joan Swan! Joan is a triple RWA Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel, FEVER, debuts with Kensington Brava February 28, 2012. BLAZE releases October, 2012.

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?

*clears throat*
*pushes to feet*
*takes a deep breath*
*keeps eyes focused straight ahead*

“My name is Joan Swan, and I am a Diet Coke addict.”

*breaks out weeping*

Luckily, where I live, on the central coast of California in a town of about 3000, there aren’t any DCA (Diet Coke Anonymous) groups, because crying gives me headaches and makes my eyes swell. Not pretty. That lack of DCA also allows me to indulge, much to my oldest daughter’s pleas to stop least I fall prey to some as-of-yet undetected brain cancer. (An unpleasant thought which actually has merit and has me substituting DC for other beverages as often as I can stand it.)

As far as other “quirks”, I have far too many to explain or even list without having to check myself into an asylum…  Wait.  That idea has serious possibilities…  I’ll contemplate, but move on for now.

I’ve been married 21 years to a real keeper, and we have 2 beautiful daughters, one in college and one in high school.  They’re keepers too, but **shhhh** don’t tell them I told you.  Their heads are already a tad big for their little bodies.

I, myself, have a bachelor’s degree in design from a California State University and a certification in sonography.  I’m also board certified in four different sonographic specialties.  But…mo matter how I stretch it – and remember, now, I’m a fiction writer – I’m not coming up with any way those have helped me with my writing.

Oh, wait.  Yeah, they have.  College has most definitely taught me how to deal with the administration bullshit bureaucracy found in publishing.  And sonography, reading all those black and white shadows on the screen, spending long hours in dark rooms with whacked out patients…well, that’s just made me a little psychotic—totally necessary in this profession!  A must-have!

And I’m not even going to mention my little pup, Indie, a little Sheltie/Aussie mutt we picked up at the pound as a baby who has become the absolute center of our lives and is currently curled up on the pillow next to me, the tip of his white tail to the top of his black nose, because he’s so perfect everyone will want to steal him away.  I’m absolutely not going to bring that precious gem into the conversation.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

But I was having so much fun talking about me…

Oh, okay.  FEVER is my next favorite thing to talk about.

FEVER is the first of the Phoenix Rising series.  The overarching series plot broils around a government conspiracy. 

A military warehouse explosion injures a team of seven hazmat firefighters, killing one.  The contents of the warehouse, extremely confidential and dangerous radioactive chemicals used by the Department of Defense in secretive scientific experiments, have inflicted the team with various paranormal abilities.  Abilities the government wants to study, but also suppress.  Abilities the team wants to hide, but also expose.  With military advancement and national power at risk on one side and personal health and freedom at stake on the other, each group is fighting for precious stakes.

FEVER is book one.  The hero of this story, one of the seven firefighters, Teague Creek, has been convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, framed by a government threatened by his prying questions into the warehouse explosion. 

Teague has been denied an appeal, lost the daughter he lived for, and the career as a firefighter he loved.  With no hope left, he plans an escape.  But his plan goes wrong when the woman he kidnaps as leverage to get his daughter back turns out to be someone else.  And this woman quickly clues into the abilities he tries so hard to hide, creating a bond neither can afford while they’re on the run from both the cops and undercover operatives who want Teague silenced.  This time, permanently.

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

All stories seem to come to me differently.  Some present characters first.  Some flash with a plotline.  This one came out of a repetitive fear in my everyday reality.

One of the locations where I previously worked gained a huge prisoner clientele over the year I worked there.  I went from scanning two or three prisoners a week to scanning five to eight prisoners every single morning.  I began feeling like I spent half my day working in a prison, surrounded by guards and inmates.

Other things started to shift as well.  Security, for instance.  Some days, guards were in short supply.  Some days, guards brought the wrong prisoners.  Some days, no chase car followed the vans.  Some days, fully loaded busses came instead of vans.  Each change presented its own security risk.  As I spent more and more time around the guards and the inmates, I started to understand their routines, and quickly recognize how easily it could all go wrong.  One tip off from someone at the hospital to a prisoner’s family member.  One guard off his game that day.  Many, many times I was left in dangerous situations that should have never been allowed to exist.  I was lucky, nothing ever happened.  But that didn’t keep me from thinking, “What if…?”

That “What if…?” led to the kernel of FEVER’s existence—a prisoner kidnapping a hospital employee during an escape attempt.  The rest of the story grew out of that idea and was based mostly on the characters.

How would you best describe your books?

Passion, danger and suspense…all with a twist of the paranormal.

I write for maximum entertainment and fulfillment.  That combination requires a fast pace, deep conflict and rich characters.  Those are my primary goals.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favorite genre to read is thrillers.  I used to read far more romance, but in the last decade, the emotion in the romance seems to tear me up.  I love writing it, because I know where it’s going, how it will turn and where it will end.  But in reading it, I don’t know those things and I can’t seem to handle the emotional angst that comes with the unknown during the travel. 

I’m also an extreme lover of craft—story structure, prose, metaphor, etc.  I’ve found the skill level of some thriller writers like a piece of art I could study over and over—Koontz, Crais, Brown, to name only a few.

In writing, a couple of years ago, I would have said romantic suspense—that’s all I’d ever written.  Really all I ever liked to read.  But when I added the paranormal element to FEVER, I found a new love.  I’d have to say my enjoyment of writing both straight romantic suspense and paranormal romantic suspense are now equal.

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

I am currently writing exactly what I want to write.  Lucky me.

What would I want to write if I had the skill to write anything?  Romantic comedy.  I long to write funny.  I so appreciate a good comedic writer.  I’ve come to believe it’s a talent, not a skill.  I believe humor is something that can be honed, but not taught.  So I write to my strengths—character and tension with a little snark thrown in for fun.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?

I love getting to know my characters.  I love it when I’m deep in the zone and they take off and start taking the lead, showing me a new facet of themselves only my subconscious knew about, but one that, now exposed, gives the story new life and a fresh twist.  I love telling their stories.

Least?  The inherent anxiety.  Is this crap?  Is this boring?  Or the opposite—this is good.  Is it a fluke?  Will I be able to repeat it?  Is it really good or do I have a skewed view?  Am I the only person who will like this guy?  Is this girl too hard?  Is this plot twist too contrived?  Will I ever stand out?  What happens after this contract is fulfilled?  And on, and on, and on…

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

I have participated in many critique groups in the past.  Now, I have a critique partner.  Elisabeth Naughton and I have been critiquing together for over 5 years now.  I love the company of other writers, but have found that at this point in my career, larger critique groups don’t work for me as well as simply the act of writing.  Going through the grind of pushing myself to be clearer, to dig deeper into my characters, to write fresher.  I’m finding lately that by attempting to emulate the masters I admire, by reading their work, studying it and applying those lessons to my own novels has been beneficial in growing my technique.

The benefit of having a trusted, talented critique partner is that she knows me well enough to give me the rope I need to allow me test and grow without balking at the change, but not enough to let me hang myself. 

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

I’m pretty excited about what I’m working on now.  It’s another paranormal, but ventures deeper into the genre, exploring witchcraft, demons and true evil.  It’s complicated, dark, gritty and sexy.  Very fun!

I’ll be at Passion and Prose in Long Beach in February, the RT convention in Chicago in April and RWA convention in Los Angeles in July.  But I’m always online and love to connect with readers and writers via: Twitter: @joanswan or @romancegiveaway, Facebook: Joan Swan Author or my blog at http://www.joanswan.blogspot.com.

I’ve got lots of ongoing contests and giveaways you can sign up for at my blog:

1-Escape & Enjoy Mega Giveaway (http://www.joanswan.com/escapeandenjoy.htm): A week’s vacation in Lake Tahoe to celebrate FEVER’s availability for preorder.  Value $3000.

2-Book Buzz Giveaway (http://joanswan.com/buzz.giveaway.htm): Weekly giveaways for chatting up FEVER, runs eight weeks.  Prizes include custom ereader skins, early copies of FEVER, Godiva chocolates.  **Bonus** all comments here count as 3 entries to this week’s contest – just fill out the entry form.

And for comments here, you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card or 1 of 3 custom handmade FEVER bookmarks!  International.

Currently, Joan works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters.

Why Use Submission Agents?

Terri Branson

By Terri Branson

Authors in old writing conclaves seem stuck in the 1980s, when the only way to get a publisher to read a manuscript was to send it through an agent. It’s just how it was done for decades. But do most writers know “why” it was done that way? My guess is not. 

Okay, here’s the why…. Basically, publishers who only worked through agents (and that used to constitute the bulk) did so in order to avoid reading slush piles. The agent did the manuscript cleaning and vetting behind the scenes, so only polished manuscripts were sent to the line editors for contract consideration. For this service, agents got paid both in signing fees and royalties (which were deducted from the author’s royalties). 

At first blush, that would seem to be a pretty good system, right? Well, it was good for the agent and great for the publisher, who saved a ton of money and lots of time. But was it good for the author? By and large, no. Authors did not benefit from agented submissions, unless there was a lot of money at stake. 

Do I have an aversion to agents? Nope. Almost signed with two very good ones in the late 90′s. So, no, I have nothing against agents, as long as it’s the right agent with the right services for the author and book(s) in question. 

AGENTS BY FUNCTION: Let’s look at agents by three different functions: 

* Contract Agents: Lawyers that specialize in publishing contract law. They receive a legal fee for brokering the contract between publisher and author, but do not receive a cut of the author’s royalties. 

* Submission Agents: Editors that deal up front with the publisher, handling submissions and sometimes also serving as contract lawyers. Submission agents almost always get both a signing fee and a percentage of the author’s royalties through the life of the contract in question. 

* Marketing Agents: Services that contract directly with the author to help with promotions and events. Authors should never sign a royalty deal with a marketing agent. Always negotiate marketing services for a fixed fee. Although not new to the publishing industry, marketing agents are the most viable agent services in the POD (print-on-demand) age. 

The reason is that most authors do not need an agent to broker a POD contract with a publisher of any size these days. Although a contract agent is necessary if there is a lot of money on the table (primary with TV/movies involved), generally speaking authors do not benefit from submission agents because too much of an author’s royalties are taken by the agent in question. It’s just not a good deal for the author. 

Therefore, if you are over your head on the contract phase, hire a contract agent (lawyer) who specializes in publishing contract law. If you need help with marketing, contract a marketing agent for a reasonable flat fee. If you have a multi-media deal (like Twilight or Harry Potter), then get a multi-media contract lawyer who can navigate the shark-infested waters of Hollywood and New York. 

Be very careful before jumping into those multi-media waters, though. I’ve heard so many first-person accounts of big publishers cheating authors (even well-known ones), and of movie companies running the gamut from refusing to pay royalties to outright stealing screenplays. As much as I would love to see one of my own books made into a movie, I’m just not sure I would be able to get through the contract process without ripping the beating heart out of some smarmy Hollywood-type and feeding the bloody thing to the crows in my back yard. <grrrr> But, heck yes, I would love to see one of my books made into a movie. That would be a hoot! :) 

PERSONAL EDITORS: There is one service I highly recommend for all authors, who are serious about contract publishing. Hire a personal editor. All bestselling authors employ personal editors. ALL OF THEM. 

Every author needs his/her own personal editor. It can be a formal agreement for services rendered, or it can be two or more authors agreeing to edit each other’s manuscripts for free. The point is that the “personal editor” now takes the place of the old “submissions agent.” IMHO (in my humble opinion): As POD/eBooks take over the publishing world, there just is no need for the old submissions agent model. Use contract agents as needed, and do hire a multi-media shark if you’re talking movies. For book publishing, however, all you need to do is get the best manuscript possible to the publisher, so either have a really good critique partner or hire a personal editor. 

Some of you may disagree with my thoughts regarding agents. And these things are subject to change, as the publishing industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As a publisher, most of what I said above cuts my own throat. But as an author, I think it’s solid advice. 

Terri Branson is an author, an editor, a graphics artist, and the publisher for Dragonfly Publishing, Inc.  After earning an associate degree in math and science, she turned to the study of creative writing.  She has sold articles on the craft of writing and conducted workshops for local writers groups. Her children’s picture book Brother Dragon was the EPPIE 2005 Best Children’s Book.  Her science fiction and fantasy collection Cosmic Sculpture was the EPPIE 2004 Best Anthology.  A member of EPIC, OWFI, SCBWI, and Web Writing Wonders, Terri lives in Oklahoma with her husband, David.