Tag Archives: writing

Coming up for air

I just finished round three edits of Nancy Marie Segovia’s Come Hell or High Water and Jody Kessler’s A Witch’s Fate. Wonderful books, wonderful authors, and both well worth the read – and you really can’t go wrong poking about in their backlist of books on Amazon for extras to read, either.

The fact that it’s five in the morning does not actually escape me. The feeling that my eyelids are made of coarse-grit sandpaper tells me the time better than the clock does.

I’m honestly wracking my brain for ways to promote Smuggler’s Justice, because I absolutely swear I have no idea how to market a book to save my life. I think it’s a great story, but trying to explain it in ad copy just to share in Facebook groups is much harder than it looks! I was just looking at ads on Amazon, and wouldn’t it just show to go ya? The smallest budget they’ll allow is $100. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a spare $100 laying around. Try as I might, I didn’t make that much in royalties in all of 2016. Glamorous jet-setting business this authoring is, ain’t it?

My Patreon is still at 2 patrons – I adore my patrons, both of them! I’ll be adding a short story just for them within the next week or so, once I’ve finished writing Siren’s Call. If you’d like to get in on the patron-exclusive stories becoming a patron is easy, and I’m offering some fun perks, too.

Speaking of Siren’s Call, I’m considering whether or not Madeleine’s beau-to-be should be a lion shifter, considering that she’s holding a small grudge against all lion shifters because her douche canoe ex-boyfriend was one.



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Filed under cost, editing, fantasy, marketing, prices, urban fantasy, writing

Getting Organized

I love software. I have more programs and apps to organize myself and my writing than any human being actually needs. I have so many programs that I may need a program to organize my programs.

That said, I like Scapple better than MindMap, even though I was highly unappreciative of having to pay for software. I haven’t used it to its full potential yet, and I do still have plenty of use for MindMap so I can’t possibly get rid of that, but I do like the way Scapple doesn’t limit you on the number of ideas that you can associate with a central idea.

I like Scrivener for almost all of my own writing. Now, considering that I like both Scapple and Scrivener you’ll likely think that I’m a Literature and Latte addict, but that’s not quite so. I also use Snowflake Pro and I can’t think of anything better for expanding a core idea into a full-blown outline. Word, on the other hand, is what I use for editing because I haven’t found anything else fairly universally used with a decent ‘track changes’ feature. Even with all that said, I still wind up using NotePad to jot down any number of things, and Excel instead of an address book like a normal person.

No matter how easy Scrivener is to use for organizing a single project, I haven’t found it to be all that great at organizing series, particularly when you’ll have dozens of books in a series and you need a ‘Bible’ to keep the series world facts organized so you don’t break your own canon by accident. I just started using PBworks to organize the ‘Bibles’ for my three series and several stand-alone books. It’s just easier to keep it all in one place. Considering that The Arcane Line series and Murphy’s Law series both take place in the same ‘universe’ – though at very different times – I definitely needed somewhere to ‘world build’. Smuggler at Large (yes, that series finally got a name for the series as a whole) takes place over extremely long periods of time and vast distances, so it’s probably a good idea to keep all those details in one place too. I’m not sure how PBworks will help with my stand-alone novels, but having all my notes in one place certainly can’t hurt.

Now if only I could get the rest of my life organized… That would be nice.


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Filed under editing, fantasy, science fiction, space opera, urban fantasy, writing

Igor and the Editor

I was recently involved in a Facebook group thread in which someone asked how much editors generally charge. I replied that the Editorial Freelancers Association‘s website lists the ‘going’ rate for editing at between $30-$40 per hour, but that many editors of my acquaintance charge per page – anywhere from $1 per page (I still have NO idea how) to $5 per page.

One author seemed to be of the opinion that editors charge much too much for the work they do, considering that the author him/herself works oftentimes for a year or more to write the book, has to cover all of the costs of producing that book (as a self-published author) or all the costs of obtaining an agent or publisher, and may never actually see any profit at all from their book. As an author myself, knowing how much each separate service (editing, formatting, cover art, cover design, etc.) costs, I sympathize, but that doesn’t mean that I can afford to give away my services as an editor. I’m sure that there are editors out there who are in comfortable enough financial circumstances that they can, and I certainly wouldn’t cast aspersions on their work. However, I can, as an editor, grumble about editors who do so and undercut everyone else in the field who is trying to earn a living. I like to think of it like grumbling about jobs being shipped overseas to countries where the ‘minimum wage’ is $1.40 or so an hour.

Here’s another perspective – say this is all about some other set of professions…

Let’s go with Mad Scientists, because they’re just FUN. Igor is a hobbyist. He puts together a monster and he thinks it’s awesome, but he can’t get it to work. He goes to Dr. Frankenstein and wants *his* professional (with training) help to make his monster work.

Well, Dr. Frankenstein has to remove the third arm from the middle of the monster’s forehead, re-route more than 40% of the monster’s circulatory system, and directly supervise Igor installing a heart because he hadn’t realized that his monster needed one to pump blood.

While Igor bore the expense of finding all the parts and of the equipment to actually bring the monster to life, the monster would be a useless lump of flesh without Dr. Frankenstein.

Now, should Igor expect Dr. Frankenstein to do all that for free? Maybe for the “exposure” and naming the monster after the good doctor? Sure, yes, Igor sank a lot of time and effort into the monster, but it doesn’t work.

If Igor could put together a monster that worked without Dr. Frankenstein, and every last one of his hobbyist friends commented on how well the monster was up, jumping around, terrorizing random villagers, etc. I could see Igor refusing to use Dr. Frankenstein’s services. Sure, it could work better and be more efficient, maybe not rely on frightening villagers with its third arm, and the Doc could probably make the monster better, but Igor can get by without him.

I guess that’s the question to ask yourself. Does your book work well, or does it need professional help?


Filed under cost, editing, prices, writing

Speak of the Devil blog tour

After considerable wrestling with the wily computer, I present to you, my dear reader, an interview with the lovely (darn it, another one) Shawna Romkey, author of the very recently published Speak of the Devil. I just love the book to pieces – I’ll admit that I may have some slight bias, since I did have the privilege of editing it, but I will remind you that tends to involve reading the book eight or more times (and I’m still not sick of it), so it must be darn good.

Ms. Romkey is, of course, another lamentably gorgeous author. sigh

Author Shawna Romkey

Author Shawna Romkey

See what I mean? I really don’t know how I manage to get all the good-looking authors, though, because I’ve seen some authors out there who are definitely not pretty, so I guess I must just be lucky!

Speaking of pretty, here’s the cover of Shawna’s Speak of the Devil – and oooooh, is that cover model pretty!

Speak of the Devil Cover

Speak of the Devil Cover

Mmmmm-Mmm! And then I go and feel all awkward because that boy’s probably around the same age as my son. sigh

Now, what we’ve all been waiting for – the interview (previously scheduled to appear April 8th before the damned Internet started refusing to let me connect for more than ten seconds at a time)…

The Interview 

MR: Hi Shawna! Come on in! Sorry about the mud – just be glad we’re not on a back road or you’d sink up to your car doors in the stuff. What would you like to drink? I’ve got Irish Breakfast Tea, this weird Peppermint Ginseng, plain Peppermint, hot cocoa, mint hot cocoa, coffee? Oh, don’t mind Himself… He probably heard the kettle whistling. 

SR: Hot cocoa is great. Thanks!

MR: Your book, Speak of the Devil was released by Crescent Moon Press on March  15th. Now, I’ll admit to being a little biased about how awesome the book is, since I had the great pleasure of editing it and I still want to read it again and again, but if I’m stoked about its release, you must be completely ecstatic! How does it feel to have your book out there in the world?

SR: It’s exciting but kind of nerve wracking at the same time. I’m like a lot of writers and kind of shy when you get down to it. When I first bought my Kindle copy and started reading it I had a minor panic attack, like, “Oh my God. Anyone can just read this now!” It was kind of scary.

MR: You knew I was going to bug you about this… but a little birdy told me that Speak of the Devil has a sequel! Now, I know, no author really wants to say too much about a book before it’s finished, but for those of us eagerly awaiting that sequel already, could you give us a teeny-tiny little hint?

SR: I’m nearly ready to submit the second book to my publisher, so I know how it all goes down.  The Devil Made Me Do It is the next book in the series and is the middle child. This is the Empire Strikes Back, so to speak, but I say the demons strike back. Things don’t go well for our dynamic couple duo, and Lily is taken to a very dark place.

MR: You’re also very active in Indy books for the Kobo, aren’t you?

SR: I am. I run the website www.trindiebooks.com which promotes eBooks for Kobo. There are a lot of sites out there that promote to Kindle, but I believe other than Kobo.com itself, I was the first to start up a Kobo eBook promo site.

MR: You grew up in Missouri, didn’t you? How similar is the setting from Speak of the Devil to the area where you grew up? 

SR: Exactly similar. I base the setting on a lot of my old stomping grounds. Old schools, old neighborhoods, everything.

MR: You live in Nova Scotia, now – my grandmother came from Antigonish and I’ve been told it’s a lovely area. How did you come to move there? 

SR: It is very lovely and parts of Nova Scotia are very similar to Missouri. Just not the big ocean part. My husband is from here, so that’s how I got to know this part of the world.

MR: Here’s me being terrifically nosy, but I do *love* a good romance – how did you and your husband meet?

SR: Oh God. We actually met online, but not like a dating site or anything. We were both posting comments on the same website. Well I was writing posts and he was reading them. He started sending me messages, and I ignored him because I thought he might be a creepy stalker, but eventually he wore me down.

MR: You’ve met Himself, and of course Little Man has been trying to get “pretty lady” attention (yes, yes, you said hi already, silly boy), so you can see my own writing gets frequently interrupted! You’re a mom of two yourself, so I’m sure you can relate – how do you find time to write on top of all that *and* teaching?

SR: *waves to Little Man* Hi there!  Well it isn’t easy. With Speak of the Devil I had the good luck, which seemed like bad luck at the time, to get laid off. It was the year my son started kindergarten (or primary as they call it here in Nova Scotia), and I was home all day by myself. I figured I should put the time to good use and take advantage of the time I was given because I could have gone back to work any day. Now I’m back part time teaching, so I still have every other day where I’m home alone to get work done. If I do go back to teaching full time, I’ll still have summers.

MR: You’re also an active member in several romance writers’ groups – does having a group of authors you can talk to about writing on at least a semi-regular basis help keep you on track?

SR: I think having a writers group is imperative. I’m in the RWA Atlantic Canada chapter and we meet monthly and have education sessions, guest speakers and workshops. All of that helps, but also talking to other authors regularly, asking them to like, tag and share your book, doing reviews for each other, all of that is critical. I tried to publish my books by myself for 20 years and it never happened. Within 2 years of being in a group I got a contract. I had no idea how to submit and who to submit to, and these women did and know their stuff and aren’t afraid to share it.

MR: Have your friends and family been supportive of your writing?

SR: They have. I mean I’ve been doing it since I was 5 now, so they are just kind of used to it. They used to ask me about it more often but as the years went by and nothing ever happened with it, I got cranky about being asked, “So are you still writing?” I think they just kind of let me do my thing. And my writing isn’t for everyone. It’s YA paranormal, so it’s not the kind of thing my parents would be interested in or my aunts and uncles, so getting them to read and critique would be brutal for us all. But my sister loved the book and is very enthusiastic about it. My brother is a loser but I think he finally bought a copy to look at. :p

MR: I understand that you’ve had your work published before, even while you were in college. What was your impression of the publishing process this time around with Crescent Moon Press?

SR: Well what happened in college was just college handbooks and student projects. Nothing was really really published until this one.  This was all new to me, but very exciting. Filling out a cover art sheet and getting an editor assigned to me. All that was soooo exciting and all a bunch of firsts for me. The process was longer than I thought it would be, but CMP takes their time and gets it done. I’m very happy with the end result.

MR: I really do love the concept behind Speak of the Devil. You did an excellent job in developing the characters into people the reader really cares about, but I think your work really shines in that it makes the reader care about even the ‘villains’. During the writing process did you have to remind yourself that they’re people too, and have motivations that seem right to them, or did they develop that way naturally?

SR: That comes into play a LOT in the second book. With this first book, I didn’t want there to be definitive lines as to who is good and who is evil. I think in reality, evil people have some good things about them and good people have a dark side. I didn’t want them to be flat. Here’s goody goody #1 and here’s the guy twisting his evil mustache #2. In the second book, I wanted to explore that further and the devil actually becomes a character in the series. I’ve heard it sad said that villains are heroes in their own story. No one walks around all “bwahaha, I’m the bad guy!” If they’re doing something evil, they think they are justified to do so. With Lucifer I had a little too much fun trying to figure out what his justification was. I tried to do that in Speak of the Devil, too, give the angels a reason to fall.

MR: Your main character Lily’s love life isn’t exactly one I would wish on anyone – she has some real disasters and a lot of angst to deal with after her friends die. I understand that you went through some similar trauma in your teens, and I know several teens who are coping with similar losses. Do you have any advice to offer to help get them through?

SR: The week my book came out there were three news stories on US news about car accidents that had ended up killing close to 15 teens in total. It’s heart breaking. When you’re young you think you’ll live forever, but dead is dead. The loss doesn’t go away. It doesn’t just get better. It’s always there. I mean, even now, nearly thirty years later I’m still thinking about the car accident in high school that took my friends. I’m still writing about it. It still affects me. As far as advice, I don’t know. I guess I’d say, live your life. Make it worth it. I know they wouldn’t want me being depressed forever or doing anything stupid. They’d want me to be happy, so try to do that however you can. For them, if you have to.

MR:On the other hand, she certainly has some yummy “problems” to deal with! I love the dishy cover model for Speak of the Devil – how close is he to how you see Luc?

SR: I didn’t picture Luc’s biceps to be that big. He’s clearly been working out. I pictured Chord Overstreet from Glee, so shorter, blonder hair. But the cover is great. His face really works, and his crazy hair.

MR: You are definitely a social media maven – could you give us some links to find your books, and you, online?

SR: I have tons of links. They can all be found on my website, but here are a few:Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads | Amazon Print

MR: I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, Shawna! You’ve really worked hard to make this book shine, and I enjoyed editing it immensely. I already bought my paperback; it’s right there on the shelf! I hope that Speak of the Devil does well for you, and continues to do well as the series progresses and more people discover your books. 

SR: Thank you so much. I hope you get assigned a new book to edit soon, about a demon fighting girl who gets taken away by the biggest baddie of them all!



Filed under editing, interview, writing

The Grave Winner cover reveal

Today I have the great pleasure of having Lindsey Loucks over to my virtual kitchen for an interview about the cover reveal for her fantastic book – The Grave Winner. I’ll admit to being very slightly biased, since I did edit The Grave Winner for Crescent Moon Press and I completely fell in love with the book. Ms. Loucks herself is enormously entertaining and a delight to work with. She really worked her tail feathers off to make sure that her book was polished up! Of course, like all of “my” authors, Ms. Loucks is entirely too pretty (why do I get all the pretty people? why can’t I get a homely cuss so I don’t feel quite so dowdy? *sniffle*)…

Author Lindsey Loucks

Author Lindsey Loucks

What a brat – she even has good hair! Sigh. Well, enough of my whining, right? She also happens to have a completely awesome cover for her book, The Grave Winner, which will be coming out on May 15th. I have to say that the artist really captured what I thought the main character would look like – absolutely a fantastic job, no questions!

The Grave Winner Cover Art

The Grave Winner – Cover Art Revealed!

Fabulous, isn’t it? I love this cover!

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…  the interview!

MR: Hi Lindsey! Come on in! It’s finally nice out, but I don’t dare set out lawn chairs, they’d just sink. Mud season in Vermont. It’ll get worse before it gets better, of course. Would you like some tea? Nothing fancy, just Irish Breakfast Tea…. Or… What is this? Peppermint Ginseng? Yerk. Must be Himself’s. Ah. Plain Peppermint too… Coffee? Oh, don’t mind Himself. He wanders through whenever he hears the magic word–‘tea’.

LL: Hi Melissa! I would love some Irish Breakfast Tea. You have a gorgeous kitchen. Hi Himself! *waves*

MR: Okay, your cover reveal for The Grave Winner is today, and I’m pretty excited! I loved editing your book, and can’t wait to get my mitts on the final product. You must be much more excited than I am!

LL: I am excited and more than a little nervous! I’ve started losing sleep about the whole thing. But sleep is silly, anyway.

MR: I understand that you wrote The Grave Winner in 2010 – it’s been a long process. What did the process look like from your end?

LL: Yep, I started writing it in May 2010. I was working on a YA Sci-Fi (which needs a major rewrite) when the title The Grave Winner leaped inside my head. I had no idea why someone would win a grave, so I scratched my head and thought about it for a while. Then Leigh, my main character, started whispering to me and would. Not. Leave. Me. Alone! Surprising, huh?

So, I started writing her story. It took about six months to finish the first draft and then another year of editing before I felt confident enough in the story to test the query waters. Several requests and even more rejections later, I had three offers from small presses. Crescent Moon Press was the obvious choice for me because 1. they publish e-copies and print, 2. they have amazing covers, and 3. they used the most exclamation points in their offering email, which proved they were the most excited about my story. I haven’t regretted my decision to go with CMP at all. Plus, they have awesome editors! *points at me and grins*

MR: *Blushes* Do you have more books in the works? Like a sequel to The Grave Winner? Hint! Hint! Seriously – I can’t wait to see what else you’re doing!

LL: Well, after what Leigh went through, she stopped talking to me for a while. I can’t say I blame her. But there’s much more to tell, and she knows it, so she’s gradually speaking to me again. I’m about a third of the way through the typed version of the sequel, but there’s more of it scattered through my notebooks. I just have to piece it all together, but I wish I had more time to do it!

I’m also about a fourth of the way through a sexy ghost story in space. I love blending different genres!

MR: You have another book coming with another publisher, don’t you?

LL: I do! It’s called Salt in the Cupboard, which will release soon from Entangled Publishing. It’s actually only a novella, and I’m nearly finished with the editing stage.

When Leigh would only give me her middle finger, I saw an open call for romantic horror novellas on Entangled’s website. Since that’s right up my alley, I had to do it! That may be why Leigh started talking to me again. I think she was a little jealous I was talking to other characters!

MR: I have to say I’m really excited to see such a talented author’s work taking off like this, Lindsey. Of course, I’m also wildly jealous, but I’ll keep that mostly to myself! *grin* How long have you been writing, would you say?

LL: Since I was eight? That sounds about right. My parents bought me my very own desk, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. Sitting down at it filled me with such excitement! Blank paper and pencils piled on top of it put me in a happiness coma. The desk is long gone but the urge to write isn’t.

MR: I’ve noticed that a lot of “my” authors started writing pretty young. About when did you decide to go from writing for fun and relaxation to working towards writing with getting a book published in mind?

LL: Not until I finished that YA Sci-Fi book that needs a major rewrite. I wrote it the summer before The Grave Winner. I knew very little about writing “rules” and I knew even less about publishing, but I thought that YA book was ready to be published yesterday. Looking back at that story reminds me that it really wasn’t. But it sure did teach me A LOT! One thing that it taught me was that I could do better, and if I did, signing a publishing contract would put me into another happiness coma. I had to try!

MR: Did you get a lot of encouragement and support for your writing from friends and family?

LL: Some of them, yes. Others, no. Some are more supportive now that it’s actually happening. One of my forever best friends gave me the courage to write that YA Sci-Fi book. She even suffered through reading the whole thing! If I didn’t write that book, I wouldn’t be here today. So I owe her a lot. Another of my forever best friends went to the graveyard with me so I could get the setting just right. I love these people.

Another person I know, upon hearing that I wanted to be a published author, said, “Good luck with that.” I’m not even kidding.

My BF couldn’t even get through the Sci-Fi book because the main character annoyed him to no end. He used to always tell me that I should write literary fiction or picture books or funny books or anything other than what I wanted to write. Now he just tells me, “You’re doing so good.”

MR: Oooh, speaking of which, this is my ‘Coming through, I’m a nosy person!’ moment – how did you and your significant other meet? I love these stories *so* much I can’t help asking.

LL: It’s a drama-filled soap opera that fueled the idea for a play I wrote in high school! Okay, this is how it went down. My best friend and I had an epic crush on my BF’s best friend. I put anonymous Valentine’s Day gifts on his front porch to declare my secret love. My friend would slip notes through the slits in his locker. He thought he had some kind of crazy stalkers, and it didn’t take him long to find out who it was. Yay. I was totally embarrassed, of course, but that didn’t stop us to continue tormenting him with the zeal of a Justin Bieber fan girl.

Through some weird turn of events, we were both invited to his birthday party. Smart move on his part. How do you stop stalking behavior? Befriend the stalkers! So my best friend and I were beyond excited, but we had to play it cool.

At the party, I sat next to a guy from out of town who I’d never met before. He was the drummer in my crush’s band, but that was all I knew. As we sat there, he kept showing me pictures of recent concerts he’d gone to and cracking me up with every bizarre thing that fell out of his mouth. He was strange in a just-like-me sort of way, and he had the prettiest green eyes I’d ever seen. And that smile…wow.

A new girl moved to town shortly after the party and stole my crush’s heart. I was super sad and more than a little confused about my feelings for the drummer boy on the couch. I’d just met him, but there was obviously something there. I hung up my stalker gear and decided to pursue that possibility like a mature high school student. We’ve been together for almost two decades. Oh, and I found out that he ate my anonymous Valentine’s Day gift I left for his best friend all those years ago!

MR: I just love the beginnings of a romance! I absolutely love Leigh’s love life in The Grave Winner, by the way. Of course, I love a lot about Leigh. I love her kickass attitude and her fashion sense and her taste in music, too! How much of Leigh’s character reflects your own likes and dislikes?

LL: There’s quite a bit of Leigh in me. We listen to the same music, we both like the gothic/punk look (though Leigh has the courage to take it much further than I do), and we love with all our hearts. The big difference between us is that Leigh says what’s on her mind and she’s not afraid to push people around when they need to be pushed. I don’t like conflict at all and will do most anything to avoid it.

MR: Leigh goes through some seriously creepy adventures. I have a few I’m pleading the fifth on, but do you have any of your own that you’d be willing to share?

LL: Well, take a look at the gorgeous cover. See that spider web? It’s there for a reason. I haaaaaate spiders with a passion, so naturally they had to crawl through this story.

MR: Leigh’s story plays out in a town she not-so-affectionately refers to as Krapper, Kansas. Other than being completely flat, Krapper sounds a good bit like small towns all over the place, including Hardwick, Vermont! How much of your own home town shines through into Leigh’s town?

LL: A great deal of it. The town where I grew up is Krapper, right down to the graveyard down the street from the video store. That store isn’t there anymore, though. Leigh’s house is structured just like the house I grew up in, minus the basement. I needed a traditional town where untraditional people, such as Leigh and her best friend Jo, would feel like outcasts. My home town was perfect for that.

MR: Hey, that’s another thing you share with Leigh – learning to play the electric guitar! Those are mine over on the wall. I’m trying to learn ‘rock’ guitar after teaching myself TAB so I could play Moonlight Sonata and such for Little Man. Yes, yes, I mentioned you. He says ‘hi’ and is trying to cadge a smooch from ‘pretty lady’, so don’t mind him too much. *grin* How far along have you gotten with learning to play the guitar?

LL: I will happily give Little Man a kiss! *smooch* That’s so awesome that you taught yourself TAB! I’m learning to play through a Playstation game called Rocksmith. *hangs head in shame* I haven’t played since last summer, though. Why can’t there be thirty-six hours in a day instead of a measly twenty-four?!

MR: We tend to be a pretty musical bunch around here. When I’m writing it can be pretty noisy in here because my writing playlist tends to be a bit wild – a driving beat keeps me typing fast! What kind of music did you listen to while you were writing The Grave Winner, or do you listen to music while you write?

LL: I envy those who can listen to music while they write since I love music, but I have to have absolute quiet. Even if my cat complains that his belly is empty, it takes me from my train of thought. My cat hasn’t learned that my writing time equals his nap time, not hungry time!

MR: I love the cover, by the way – that’s just like I imagined Leigh! What was your first reaction to the cover of The Grave Winner? Who’s the cover artist?

LL: When I saw the email from Crescent Moon Press with a subject line that said ‘Grave Winner cover art,’ I stopped breathing. What if I hated it? What if I liked it?  What if I loved it so much I started crying? I’d been waiting for that moment for a long time, after all. I was at work in the school library at the time, and I quickly glanced around to make sure no one would see me open it in case I did cry. Then I opened the email and gasped. There was Leigh, just like I’d imagined her, sitting on tree roots in a graveyard. It was absolutely perfect. I didn’t cry, probably because I repeated to myself over and over, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” I replied back in all capital letters how much I loved it.

The cover designer is Liliana Sanches, aka the Princess of Shadows. She’s a genius and a wizard. I sent her a gushing thank you through Facebook when I got home from work that day.

MR: When will The Grave Winner be available and where will we be able to find it online?

LL: Release day is May 15th. It will be available as an ebook and in print from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and probably other places that I don’t know about yet.

MR: Are you planning on paperbacks too? Will you be having book signings? Will there be signed copies available online too?

LL: It will be available in paperback! I’ll probably have book signings at some point. I should probably look into that. There will be signed copies floating around during contests and other fun book release events, like my blog tour which starts May 20th.

MR: How can people keep up with developments? 

LL: My website is here. My blog is there, too. I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

MR: I’m so glad you took the time to stop by and have a chat with me, Lindsey! Really, I’m delighted to have played even the small part of editing The Grave Winner, and I can’t wait ’till it’s available for sale so I can “keep” Leigh nearby and go back to reading about her adventures when I need a Leigh fix! You did an excellent job of painting her character with words, and it has been a true pleasure to get to know you as well. I have to say that I’ve been delighted to brag to family, friends, colleagues and the unsuspecting blog browsing public that you’re one of “my” authors.

LL: That’s so sweet, Melissa! You played a huge part in making The Grave Winner all shiny and readable. Thank you so much for inviting me to your lovely virtual kitchen!

That was such a fun interview! I really do like doing interviews, so expect more of them folks! *grin* And, for being such good folks and reading this far I’ll even take pity on you all and give you The Grave Winner‘s blurb so you’ll have an idea of what I’m so excited about!

Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead — just like the prom queen did.

While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging.

She should have listened.

Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth.

With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.


Filed under editing, interview, writing

Alternative Booker Awards

Seumas Gallacher went and did it again – he has graciously honored me by tagging me for an Alternative Booker Award. Personally, I think this is a ploy to get a peep at my personal bookshelves, but… at least as far as books go, I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, so he’s in luck. The idea is to mention five of your favorite books – preferably without going all literati and pretentious – and then tag 5 other bloggers with this delightful award. Now, choosing only five books is going to be completely impossible for me, so bear with me, you’ll just have to cope with several series!

My newest favorite series on my ‘keepers’ list is by Sean T. Poindexter, and because it’s new and I haven’t mentioned it before I’m going to natter on about it, because I tend to be a little enthusiastic about finding a new favorite. The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles – thus far I’ve read books 1 and 2 – The Shadow of Tiamat and The Will of the Darkest  respectively, are simply wonderful. I would seriously go all fan girl on this poor fellow, so it’s probably good that he’s far, far away. No, I don’t go in for going fan girl because an author is ‘cute’ (although… he is kinda cute), I go fan girl for authors who can write a damned good story. Nothing’s sexier than brains, good vocabulary, and creativity. I’ve already started pestering the poor man about when book 3 is coming out and was treated to the news that there’s a spin-off series coming along as well, which delights the hell out of me. Brains, vocabulary, creativity, and productivity too? What? Oh. You want to know what the books are about? Silly you.

The books center around Megan, a young woman who is entirely average – which I love. She’s fairly pretty but not fall-all-over-yourself gorgeous. She’s got a job she cares about that she’s actually qualified to hold… That’s a pet peeve of mine – characters with jobs their degree wouldn’t qualify them to get. She’s not rich. She doesn’t drive a faboo car. She has realistic insecurities about her appearance but doesn’t hate herself. She thinks her roommate is prettier – or at least hotter – than she is. She’s had past relationships that were lousy, and past experiences that were awful, but she’s not completely destroyed by them. She has a boss she thinks is cute but she hasn’t asked him out. She has a friend who is a complete bitch (oh, come on, we all have at least one). In short, she’s ordinary. I love that because that lets the reader identify with the character even when she’s thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

One of those extraordinary circumstances is hitting a motorcyclist with her car. She’s banged up, but he ought to be dead – and isn’t harmed in the least. He’s rich as Croesus, tall, dark, handsome… and a dragon. What I love about Garrett is that for all those wonderful things he isn’t the least bit charming. He isn’t ‘smooth’ with words, and he doesn’t know how to express his feelings. For me, that’s just about perfect – I, for one, can’t stand a hero who is “perfect” and romantic and all that. Love, in my opinion, isn’t about smooth talk, flowers, candlelight, and dancing. I find “romance” a silly thing for the most part. Love is about how you really feel – and how you continue to feel – when ‘the chips are down’. If your love doesn’t survive all hell breaking loose in your lives it wasn’t really love to start with.

Now, I’m not going to spoil the story for you, except to say that loving a dragon may very well be the definition of all hell breaking loose. Meg is targeted by vampires, as is Garrett, and Meg’s considerably more special than she appears to be. I will say that the plot is exceptionally well done; the ‘minor’ characters and their sub-plots are absolutely essential to the story and Mr. Poindexter develops their characters extremely well. The sex scenes are hot without being disgusting and tawdry or heavily laden with purple prose and ridiculous euphemisms. Better yet, they’re accurate for sex with a… um… well-endowed fellow. I’m sorry, folks, this may be blush-inducing, but unrealistic sex scenes in which the man is well-endowed and they go ‘all night’ are insanely stupid – there’s some wear and tear involved and you’re going to be walking funny and sore as hell the next day, plainly put. The fight scenes are dead-on accurate in choreography and physics (given that there are dragons involved, of course). That’s another pet peeve of mine – fight scenes that just couldn’t possibly work that way make me skim and roll my eyes at an author’s lack of research.

Next on my list is David Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean  series. I adore epic fantasy and these series are an excellent example of how it should be done.  Of course, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series is also exceptionally well-done epic fantasy.  For both authors, however, I really only like these series and I’ve never been able to get “into” their other work.

I love funny fantasy, so competing for the ‘funny’ slot are Piers Anthony’s Xanth series and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Of the two series, Discworld is considerably cleaner – I begin to worry that Mr. Anthony’s just a touch pervy. Mr. Anthony has, of course, produced several other series, most of which are even more ‘questionable’ than Xanth;  sex is fine by me, pedophilia isn’t, so I’m not going to recommend any of his other series.

I love science fiction, particularly space opera, and again I have competing favorite series. Lois McMaster-Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe are my picks, and both have gotten Hugo nominations for the 2012 installments of their series – at least on my ballot. Yes, I get to vote on the Hugos this year. Much as I love Lois’s Vorkosigans, I really can’t get into her other books like Spirit Ring; they’re just not as well done and not as engaging.

My last category of absolute keepers are “my” authors. I’m probably biased, but I think that Justin Macumber (A Minor Magic), Lindsey Loucks (Grave Winner), Shawna Romkey (Speak of the Devil), Cindy Young-Turner (Thief of Hope and Journey to Hope), Jody A. Kessler (Death Lies Between Us), Diane M. Haynes (Rift Healer and Sirocco), Rusty Fischer (Reanimation Reform School among others), Denna Holm (Soul of a Warrior), and Wendy Russo (January Black) are putting out some of the best new books out there. Better yet, most of those books are either going to be series or already part of a series, which means there’s more to read! 🙂 Now, you may over-rate my bias here and think that I love them just because I’ve edited some of their work, but the truth of the matter is – that makes me that much more certain that these are really good books! Think about it; I’ve read these books several times over and I absolutely adore them and will read them again and again. That says something, right?

And, because it’s my blog, I’m also going to mention that I adore Neil Gaiman, David Weber, Larry Correia, and Eric Flint. Just because I can. 🙂 I read a lot, okay?

The five people I’m tagging with Alternative Booker Awards of their own – mostly because I want a peep at their bookshelves:

Shawna Romkey

Lindsey Loucks

Wendy Russo

Jody A. Kessler

Cindy Young-Turner

Just can’t wait to see their favorite books!



Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Seumas Gallacher

Today I have the great pleasure of welcoming my friend Seumas Gallacher to my “virtual kitchen” for a long-overdue interview.
Seumas lives and works in exotic Abu Dhabi and has had enormous, and well-deserved, success with his action/adventure/thrillers featuring Jack Calder, Vengeance Wears BlackVengeance_Wears_Black available on Amazon here, and The Violin Man’s LegacyThe_Violin_Mans_Legacy available on Amazon here.  Recently Seumas has also released The Blogger’s Guide to Absolutely NothingThe_Bloggers_Guide_To_Absolutely_Nothing available on Amazon here, which is an absolutely hilarious read and sure to brighten up your day in bite-sized pieces.
On to the Interview!

Goodness Gracious, Seumas! Come on in before the wind takes your kilt! After that video you posted I don’t think the neighbors could take it. Besides, you’ve terrible goosebumps! I know, terrible weather, it’s not Abu Dhabi – Vermont’s a cold place. What kind of tea would you like? 

S. Hello, m’Lady Melissa… how grand to be sitting in a real virtual front Kitchen at last…thanks for inviting me over… it’s nice to be here, indeed as ye get a bit older it’s nice to be ANYWHERE…I’ll thank you for a Diet Coke in lieu of the other brews thanks…

I’m all about either English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast, myself. At least for tea! No, no electric chairs, whips or chains, no dungeon. Just tea, frisky devil! Now, I’ve personally loved your books The Violin Man’s Legacy and Vengeance Wears Black. I love the fast pacing and the international intrigue! How many of the places your characters travel through have you visited yourself?

S. Well, in all modesty, I’ve travelled all over the world, and many other places…as for the locales in the novels, let’s see…Hong Kong, Amsterdam, London, Germany, France, Denmark, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Gibraltar…all have had my feetprints trample them…not yet sampled South America..it was shut when I tried to go,, or I think I had to stay in that evening to do my hair…Poland, not yet…

You really write them convincingly. Is international banking similarly exciting? Have you had interesting adventures in the course of doing your job?

S. Well if you’ve read much of the international debacles on the stock and money markets in the last four or five years, it’s not so much exciting as nerve-wrecking…in my ‘other’ role as a turnaround, trouble-shooting, management advisory person, I’ve had some scary moments …in the Far East for three years I travelled around in an armoured security van, with a rotation of armed bodyguards…so. yes, I’ve had my little wobblies here and there …oh, this must be your other half, Dana…d’ye think I could get his autograph on the back of a hundred dollar bill?…his, of course..I’m Scottish, remember …

And you live in such an exotic place! Oh, don’t mind Himself. He tends to wander through when tea’s on. He loves Vermont, though, so don’t tell that I’m hankering to move somewhere warm! I’m hoping to convince him it’s his idea – should take another twenty years or so. Is Abu Dhabi as gorgeous as the tourism photos suggest?

S. It’s the best kept secret in the world…Abu Dhabi is a great place to live…at this time of the year we get temperatures around 20C most days…there’s a lot of desert outside the city areas of course, but the modernization that’s been taking place over the last 10 years is terrific…the tourist ‘biggies’ include the Grand Mosque, which I think ranks up there with the Wonders of  the World… it is striking beautiful …as is the amazing Emirates Palace Hotel…come visit sometime…

Of course, I also love your cheeky sense of humor! Even the Teenager has laughed over a few parts of your newest book that I’ve read to him. I’d let him read them himself, but it’s *mine*! Tell me about your most recent release, ‘The Blogger’s Guide to Absolutely Nothing’.

S. I’m glad Daniel gets a kick out of my stuff … a lot of it is tongue in cheek, but with a splosh of reality in there, too…The Blogger’s Guide to Absolutely Nothing is a collection of selected blog posts since I began doing them last year. The idea came after being astonished with the Blogger of the Year Award.. it kinda made me think maybe people actually DO like my stuff …

You mentioned when it came out that a friend of yours convinced you to publish it. I find it hard to get together a writing group locally Do you have a lot of writer friends? Do you connect online or in person?

S. I have a particular writing buddy, the excellent Jody Ballard, whose debut novel, ‘The Smell of Mud’, is launching on Kindle on February 22… we meet at a local hotel lobby most mornings when I’m not engaged in my Management business… it’s great fun having someone around to bounce ideas off…

I love how you’re actively working to get your work to ‘go viral’. It’s really impressive when any author works hard at promoting their work. What have you found that increased your sales the most?

S. I was impressed early on with the advice from Rachel Abbott, who debuted with “Only the Innocent’ with 100,000+ downloads…she said the writing was the comparatively simple part…the harder piece was ‘building the platform,” and to treat that like a business campaign, or program, with a budget of timing as much as anything…I took that to heart, and have developed a broad base on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn and with the blog…LUVIN’ IT!!  So, I believe it’s the combination of regular presence on these channels that have produced results for me. I haven’t ventured in to the other things like Tumblr, Pin, etc, as there’s only so much budgeted time available in the day/week for me, as well as trying to run my one-man commercial business.

You also have your books in bookstores and hotel lobbies around Abu Dhabi, don’t you? How did you convince the owners to carry them? 

S. That took a lot of slog as I did it on my own… I just went round each of the big store distributors and personally sold them a deal, all on consignment basis…they sell, I collect…

I’ve also enjoyed your recent posts on music. Little Man was thrilled by the Andre Rieu ‘Amazing Grace’ with bagpipes. He ran off at the fingers for a good ten minutes afterwards before he slowed his signing down enough for me to figure out what he was saying! I used to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to him when he was a little guy. Do you often listen to stirring and emotional music when you write? 

S. I have a yearn for ANY kinda good music, but having grown up in my teens with the 60s music, and having been the front singer for a ‘group’ back then, I like the oldies….the bagpipes ALWAYS get me buzzing…I liked your singing version of Amazing Grace…it’s a wonderful song, with gaelic origins… I sang competitively in gaelic music festivals all those years ago, and love the haunting essence of that music…I will use music when I want to get to a meditative state… (I’m not a ‘yoga ‘ type person, but I like mood music)

Well, you know me, I’m listening to punk and angry rock, but I’m also writing science fiction with a lot of action! What’s your favorite music to listen to when you’re writing intense scenes for your Jack Calder series?

S. I don’t actually listen WHILE I write…I’m able to close out the rest of the universe when I’m writing…

Do you have more Jack Calder books in the works?

S. Yes… The third, SAVAGE PAYBACK, should be done give or take by the end of the first quarter …after that I have AT LEAST two more in my head already… I think I’m creating a franchise of these now, (at least that’s what others tell me!)

I write right here at the kitchen table – what does your writing environment look like? Is there anything you like to have around when you write? 

S. The aforementioned hotel lobby is relaxing enough to write, but frankly, I can write anywhere… I just detach and get into the flow of it…

So, family! ( Shouted over the din of Teenager blasting The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ ) Tell me about yours. I know you’ve got at least one daughter… (aside:Turn it down! We have visitors!) Sorry about that. I think he might actually be going deaf, but at least it’s a good song. What was I asking? Oh! Sorry. Yeah. Tell me about your family.

S. Paint It Black’s one of my favourite .. a bit surprised Daniel is into that  era’s music.  My daughter is now a teenager, and the most gracious young lady I’ve ever seen… no traits of mine there, then…if she ever starts to become like me, I’ll try to persuade her otherwise…:):)

Well, Seumas, I’ve had a wonderful time chatting. Next time I have you over I’ll trip the breaker in the Teenager’s room so things aren’t quite so rowdy around here. I’ll be sure to let my friends know where they can get your books so they can enjoy them as much as I do. 

S. LUVVED BEIN’ HERE…..mwaah very plenty big…


Filed under writing