Monday, October 29, 2012

My New Friend, Musa Author Ted Mendelssohn Teaches Me a New Trick

Getting a new blog post from Ted was a bit like kismet.  I have been wrestling with a component of a sci-fi I've been working with.  After reading his advice, I realize why I have a block about it.....while trying to write scientifically, I've actually been trying to be TOO scientific.  Here, let me let Ted explain it.  He does it so much better than me.

Ted Mendelssohn

Samantha has graciously invited me into her house – her blog, that is – with a post about including science in your writing. So here it is, the Big Basic Rule of Writing Science Fiction (because yes, there is only one):

Science fiction is NOT about science.

Period. Full stop.

Entirely new power sources? Travel to other star systems? Sentient non-human beings? Who cares? Seriously. An SF story is about none of these things. Rather, it's about the effects these things might have on the story's protagonists.

Good example: Robert Heinlein's classic 1940 short story, Blowups Happen. Five years before we had the atom bomb, and eleven before the first nuclear power plant came on line, Heinlein imagined a breeder nuclear reactor that provided power and medical radioactives to the entire western United States. And then he asked "But what if the plant is fundamentally unstable? What if it could explode in an atomic fireball?" The plant is vital to the US economy; it can't be shut down. But the engineers know that one mistake on their part could wipe the entire state of Nevada off the map in a multi-megaton explosion. The stress is unbearable, so they start to "blow up." Although there was plenty of science in the story, the most important thing was the stress on the human beings.

Another classic example: Cordwainer Smith's Scanners Live in Vain. Smith asked the question: "What if space flight requires men to undergo radical transformations – to become partially machine, to lose some of their humanity? How will they behave?" His answer was utterly believable – that men who had sacrificed so much, and lost so much of what makes us human, would protect their power and status with extreme, terrible acts that they would never have considered before they were transformed.

This is how to use science in fiction: Understand the implications of a new development, and follow them wherever they might go. What if genetic engineering allows us to give up sleep? What would the psychological effects of immortality really be like? Instead of creating a world you like and finding science to justify it, look at science and wonder what the implications might be.

And go from there.

Thanks, Ted!  And if you liked what you read here, you will love to get more comfortable with his works.  Buy and read, and let him know how you felt.  The best way to support an indie author is to buy an indie author.  We all thank you.

Ted's new book is from Musa Publishing:  

And you can become a follower of his, here:  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

HELLOWEEN is upon us!

No, really.  I didn't misspell it.  HELLOWEEN is my new book.  My eighth publication and my third adult horror collection, I am pleased to announce it will be available on Amazon within the next twelve hours.

To give you a little taste of it, I'm including the first few lines of each of the six stories.  Hope it whets your appetite and makes your skin crawl, even the tiniest little bit.

 Eat at JOE’s
Reynaldo “Rey” Claude leaned over the wooden crate of tomatoes and inhaled deeply. The farmers market was always the best place to find the freshest ingredients for his culinary creations and Rey enjoyed his visits to gather the tasty produce. He strolled along the bustling wholesale market, making his choices and filling his basket. He was known there, and most vendors stopped to say hello and offer Rey a free sample of this, that, and the other. Which he took willingly. His food creations were like art pieces to him; each had to have its own special sauce. Pasta was pasta, but it was all about the sauce. He only wished his patrons felt the same.

Nadine Keller was running late. She still had a million things to do and had most of them on her mind, so when the GPS started talking to her, she didn’t immediately notice it. She had jumped into the Range Rover and flung the dry cleaning into the back seat. She dumped her overstuffed purse on the passenger seat and backed out of the mall parking lot. When she heard the calm, modulated voice telling her to turn left, she just obediently flicked on her signal and made the turn. Later, she would realize she didn’t remember programming an address into the GPS. She should have been wary then. GPS units didn’t just start talking to you out of the blue, demanding things.               Not like husbands did.

Darla Demples punched the elevator button to the tenth floor. She shifted back and forth on her fashionable high heels and transferred her briefcase from her right shoulder to the left. Impatient, she poked the button again and began to tap her slender foot. Damn! You’d think the head of one of the largest cosmetics company could get a damn elevator when she wanted it.  Her gaze fell on her company logo, proudly emblazoned on literally every surface in the lobby: Dollyface Cosmetics. She read the catch phrase underneath, pride welling within her: Look like a living doll, forever. Dolly smiled wistfully, remembering how she came up with the slogan, after a sleepless night with a very cranky baby daughter. Denise was almost an adult now, in college hundreds of miles away. She knew she didn’t see her near as often as she should, but she always found a way to validate that. I’m working for her future. She knows that. My success will set her up for the rest of her life, her and her future children.


Just because I’m telling you this story, doesn’t mean I’ll be alive at the end of it. I just want to clear that up. So there aren’t any surprises at the end. It’s how I kind of like to do things. I’ve never been one for surprises. Even when I was younger, when my birthday would come around, I made sure I knew all the plans ahead of time. I never wanted the surprise party all the other kids were begging for. Neither did Lenny. He hated them even more than me. Only, he couldn’t tell anyone. You see, Lenny was my imaginary friend.
 Or maybe I should say is. I’m fully grown now, with an education, a great job and even my own office. In fact, that’s where I am right now. Lenny is here, too, somewhere. He doesn’t always come out, only when he thinks I need him. I guess I needed him earlier.
 I suppose I should get the whole story out now, before they arrive. Just looking down at the bodies makes me a little scared of what they will think. What they might do to me. Lenny keeps saying I didn’t have a choice. He told me I had to do it. If not, I’d never be my own person. I’d never be free.

New Neighbors

Mindy Jasper hollered down the hall of her new house to her children.
 “Jackson! Danielle! Hurry or we’ll be late for your first day of school.” She peered down the hall, then had to flatten herself against it to avoid being crushed by both of her children as they came hurtling toward her. Her daughter came first and spun around Mindy’s jeans-clad legs, hiding from her brother, who was only seconds behind her. He stopped when he reached his mom and sister, but only because he’d tired of the game. His sister didn’t look terrified anymore, not now that she was next to Mom, and to him, it was only fun if she was.

She heard the back door creak open and shut. Even though he always tried to be quiet, she never missed that unmistakable sound. Elaine Gardner had heard that sound a million times. Most of the time, it meant that her husband Roland was coming in from work, or from tending the garden, or from taking out the trash. She knew when it didn’t mean that. When he came in way past midnight, she knew it had an entirely different meaning: it meant her husband, Roland Gardner, was returning from a kill.

So, if any of these sound interesting or compel you to read them in some way, buy the book for a buck at Amazon and don't forget to tell me what you think.  Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Fearless Friend Sharon Ledwith shares the deets on writing a series

By Sharon Ledwith
Face it. If you’ve written a great book filled with equally great characters, readers will want more. Much more. And the sooner the better. Then, you start to panic. Sweat drips off your face and onto your keyboard. You’re committed now. Legions of readers are waiting in the wings for your next installment.


Don’t worry.
You’ve got this.

The most important thing to remember in creating a series for any genre is to connect the dots, create a common thread to tie your individual stories together into a nice, shiny bow at the series end.
Complicated? Not really. Read on…

First: Make sure your characters have enough problems going on both individually and together to carry through at least five books. The entire series needs to get from A to B to Z dragging your characters along (sometimes kicking and screaming) until, by the end of the series he or she or they need to come out changed. They need to have shown growth, they need to have evolved through the course of their adventures.

Second: Don’t put any elements into your first story that you don’t want to live with through five or more books. It’s a long haul to drag unnecessary fillers such as a troublesome pet, a psychotic boyfriend or an ongoing health problem for the ride. Like they say, “Use it or lose it”.

Third: Don’t solve the big mysteries or resolve all their problems in the first book. Too much, too soon. The idea is to hook’em with that first book, and get your readers begging for more. Your characters should still have dreams and goals and ambitions to work toward through the length of the series. Oh yeah, and as you do answer the burning questions and resolve the terrible conflicts, make sure you replace them with additional—hopefully more serious—ones.

Fourth: Remember—it’s all about building relationships between your characters. Throw obstacles their way and create the necessary tension between them to get your readers to care about them. It’s all about the journey and how they work together to resolve their problems. You want readers to be as invested at the end of the series in how that relationship is working out as they were in the first book.

Fifth: Keep a series guidebook stuffed with all the vital information on your main characters— and recurring side characters. The color of their hair and eyes, their brother’s or sister’s names, or any allergies is vital to log. Believe me readers know when something is amiss and will call you on it.

Sixth: Make sure you’re writing a series for the right reason—because you love your characters enough to tell their story over a period of years to come. And hopefully, that could be a long, long time.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. 

When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

Want more info on The Last Timekeepers series? Check it out on Facebook: 

Learn about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog:
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

What the Heck is an Ebook Anyway?....Author Margaret Lesh gives us a Primer

As much as we tout the digital age of publishing, there is still a huge faction of people that don't love or even own an ereader.  My own father falls in this category.  He wants to support his little girl (me), but hasn't the first idea where books have gone in the last decade.  When I read this post, I knew I had to share it.  It's so simple and straightforward.  This one's for my Daddy.

There’s This eBook I Want To Read. Now What..?

or… StoryRhyme’s Relatively Painless and Slightly Boring Guide to Ebooks so You Can Download Fifty Shades of Grey...
Note: I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but each time I try to write it, I fall asleep. Here is my post on ebooks. Now I’ll go take that nap.

With my debut novel’s recent publication as an ebook , I’ve received thousands of (umm, a few) questions from folks. For many, ebooks are newfangled, slightly scary, and a little mysterious. There are many misconceptions, and many of us are learning—especially those of us who aren’t, erm, techies.

What is an Ebook?

Technically, an ebook is nothing more than a file that you download to your computer, phone, tablet, etc., to read.

So, an ebook is not a physical book one can hold in their hands, but it is in every other sense a book with a delightful cover, an index, dedication, chapters, and an acknowledgements page at the end. It’s been professionally edited and published by a real publisher (there are also some great self-published ebooks).

So, it's just the "electronic version" of any book you'd find in your local bookstore and library.

The quality of any ebook, as with traditionally-published books, varies, but one can almost always read a sample of the book on to see if it piques their interest.

What are the Advantages of an Ebook?

Ebooks do have some advantages over paper books. Here are but a few: They’re usually far less-expensive than their paper book counterparts because they don’t cost as much to produce, ship and stock. They’re searchable, can contain hyperlinks to further information, imbed media (pictures, audio, movies). You can even easily change the type size and style! (Take that, tiny hard-to-read print.)

Depending on your ebook reader, they can even be read aloud by your device (phone, tablet, computer).

Oh, and there are thousands of free ebooks available; from classics to newly-released titles.

You can carry your entire book library around in your pocket!

What do I Need to Read an Ebook?

Very good question, if I do say so myself. You may read your shiny ebook on your computer (if you’re the iconoclastic type), or your iPad (if you’re very cool), iPod (yeah, we know you), your Kindle (if you’re a trendsetter), your Android phone (if you’re one of the hip ones), your Blackberry (if you still have one of those), or your netbook (if you’re like me). You can read your ebook on pretty much anything with a screen and a reader. Yes, people read ebooks on their mobile phones. I’ve seen this; I know it happens.

What are the most common ebook formats? (Another very good question. I give myself ten points.)

Epub—developed as an industry standard. Use if you have a Nook, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android phones and tablets.


PDF—Most Windows-based and Mac computers.


A common misconception: I can’t buy an ebook on because I don’t own a Kindle.

Untrue! Anyone can purchase an ebook from (the behemoth of the ebook world). As long as you have a way to read the book on whatever device you choose, you may purchase from Musa Publishing offers ebooks in all four main formats, so this is very handy, and everyone can join in the ereading fun. (Yes, I just wrote that.)

Okay, Really, I Just Want to Read an Ebook.

Here’s one super-fast and easy way: Just go here and download Amazon’s free Kindle app and start reading... 

It doesn’t matter what computery thingy you have. If you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad. If you have an Android phone or tablet. If you have any Macintosh. If you have a Windows PC or laptop. Even if you have a Blackberry or Windows phone. Everything works!

Once you have the free Kindle app, you can use it to find and read just about any ebook out there. It's really that simple.

I hope you’ve enjoyed StoryRhyme’s instructional guide. Questions? Feel free to post, and we’ll see if we can help you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Welcome Musa Publishing Author Clarissa Johal as she talks about Writing the Paranormal


By Clarissa Johal

People often ask me how I began writing in the genre of paranormal. I’m not brooding or scary or running off to join the latest seance, which I think is what they expect. And my silly sense of humor oftentimes gets me into trouble, especially with my two daughters.

The topic of paranormal has always interested me because I moved around so much as a kid. It seemed we were always living in an older place and with those older places, came a ghost or two. Now, before you chuckle and roll your eyes (or not) let me tell you, I walk the line between skeptic and 100% believer. On the surface, I may be rolling my eyes with you, but inside, I believe in a plethora of things I won’t even begin to discuss until I’ve known someone a very long time. I know what I’ve experienced, and I know what my rational mind tells me. Believe me, there’s a lot of arguing in my head over those two things. We are a collection of what we’ve experienced in our lifetime, and since I’m as old as the hills, I’ve experienced plenty.

When I was 10-years-old, we moved to an island and lived for several months in a 30-year-old house. I’m an insomniac and have been since I was a kid. Consequently, being awake while the rest of my family slept was nothing new, though my mom would get quite irritated because I would roam the house at night and wake her up. One evening, and after hours of tossing and turning, I decided to stroll. While I sat on the couch trying to figure out what to do with myself, I heard singing in my ear. It was as if a woman was sitting right next to me singing, “Time in a Bottle.” I liked the song, it was popular at the time (and yes, that dates me) but I didn’t know the words. At that point, I did what any kid would do if they weren’t compelled to run away screaming, I politely sat and listened until she finished. Afterwards, I went back to bed and proceeded to have the worst nightmare. I dreamt that I walked into our bathroom and found a naked, young woman wrapped up in a shower curtain in our bathtub. She was blonde, had a bullet hole in her head, and was quite dead. It was a graphic nightmare for a 10-year-old; I never watched television and rarely had nightmares. I had it for weeks until we finally moved. Each time, it became more intense—it had gotten to the point where she was clawing her way out of the tub and trying to speak to me through the shower curtain. Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck by the time we moved. Years later, I remember finding out from my parents that there was indeed, a murder at that house. They didn’t elaborate, but I always wondered of the details. Parents, tell your kids these things ahead of time, because if they ever experience anything, they will always wonder.

I was 13-years-old when my parents took a house by the ocean. They were able to rent it cheap and I was more than a little sad when we moved a year later. It had a garden, a tree-house, a large yard to do cartwheels in; everything a kid could want. It also had ghosts. I would lay awake for hours and watch a white cat walk through my bedroom wall. Over and over again. No explanation for that, it just was. I remember constantly seeing an old lady out of the corner of my eye. She would follow me down the stairs to the basement and back up again. She would follow me down the hallway to my bedroom. Sometimes, I would see her sitting in my mom’s rocking chair in the living room. I wasn’t afraid; she was just a presence I came to accept. It wasn’t until we moved from that place that I overheard my parents discussing the house and the fact they had both seen the shadow of an old lady there. They thought it might have been the lady that died in the house before we bought it.  Well, that was news to me (and unfortunately, taught me the joys of eavesdropping).

So, back to the genre of paranormal. I began writing fiction when my kiddos were younger. While writing the second installment to my Pradee series, I was interrupted by two characters that truly didn’t fit. I kept setting them aside, but they would return, stronger than ever. Finally, I gave up on my young adult title and began Between, a story of the paranormal. While my young adult fantasy, took me ten years to complete, I had the rough draft of Between finished in several months and a year after that, the full novel was complete. Six weeks after I submitted, Musa Publishing offered me a contract.

The novel I’m working on now is also in the genre of paranormal. I have to say, I’m hooked. I like the freedom of writing for adults and I love presenting the paranormal in a new and interesting ways. Now, I know what you’re probably going to ask me. Do I write of my experiences or make stuff up? I’m a writer, I write fiction, and I know the difference between fiction and real life. I have to, I have kids. However, the best fiction is when writers “write what they know” and a little of what I know creeps into my novels from time to time. I hope you will enjoy reading them.

Since Lucinda was a young girl, she's been able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated, young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that everything can be saved.

When Lucinda is involved in a car accident that kills her fiance, she is devastated and moves to a small town to live a life of self-imposed exile. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. However, there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

The spiritual activity around her intensifies as Lucinda is increasingly haunted by memories of the accident. As she is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she surprisingly finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

Between will release under the Thalia imprint of Musa Publishing on December 14, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wise Words from Wicked Editors....Mystical Press tells all!

As an independent author, I am always excited and pleased to be able to showcase authors and other writing professionals like me, in like situations. Then on a blog I follow, Mystical Press, I read the best advice and information on the mystery surrounding the publishing process straight from the horse's mouth....the editors.

I contacted them and let them know I would love to spread their religion. Happily, they are allowing me. Please read on, for a great blog post from the wonderful (and open for questions!) Mystical Press:

5 Secrets to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published 

As authors-turned-editors, we’ve learned a number of truths we wish we’d known when we were authors. Though this article is based on our own experiences as small press editors, many of our colleagues—Big 6 included—wholeheartedly agree with the following points.

However, not many of them are willing to share such information. They vehemently shake their heads and exclaim, “No! Don’t tell an author THAT!” When we ask why, they usually stare at us as if we’re daft. “Just don’t!” (AJ & Arial lean in… “Pssst! We’re going to reveal some of those secrets. Don’t tell anyone or we’ll be in big trouble! Shhh!”)

Secret #1—Editors Are NOT Rich
As authors, we thought all editors were paid via salary. At a minimum, we assumed they were paid a large chunk of money per book when the manuscript was contracted. Then we became editors—GASP! Most editors with publishing houses either get paid royalties—meaning they ONLY get paid IF the book sells—or a small flat fee based on word count. Example: a 30,000-word manuscript x 1¢ per word = $300…but the editor usually spends anywhere from 40-50 hours to put out a quality product. You do the math. We’re talking less than minimum wage. And though we editors may have anywhere from 5-50 authors under our belt, we’re usually only working on 2-5 manuscripts at a time due to our many other duties (See AJ’s article “Waiting For Edits… Tick… Tock…”).

So what’s the big secret that affects you? This is a KEY factor in getting your manuscript contracted and why it’s #1 on the list. The less time an editor spends on a manuscript, the more bang she gets for her buck. Editors are looking for stories that are clean, easy to edit, and worth spending time on. Remember…your job as an author is to learn your craft. Which brings us to the next secret…

Secret #2—They Don’t Call It the Slush Pile for Nothing
MOST of the manuscripts that come across our desks are CRAP! We are not kidding and this was a surprise to us, too. And we’re not just talking about the book. We’re talking query letter to synopsis to finished manuscript.

So how do you seriously stick out amongst the kah-kah and craft something sparkly clean? KNOW YOUR CRAFT! We cannot stress this enough. Never stop studying the craft of writing and find a good critique partner who will be brutally honest with you. And we’ll share two bonus secrets—the two biggest trouble spots in 99% of manuscripts submitted to us are show versus tell and unrealistic characters.

Herein lies the rub: If authors are getting form-letter rejections, how do they know what (or how) to fix their manuscripts? That’s where we come in. We have three classes that will help you overcome the above issues AND you will have one-on-one interaction with an editor to learn what you’re doing wrong—not just in these but in other areas, as well: Show versus Tell (SVT) Class Series, Crafting Believable Characters (CBC) Class Series (coming this fall/winter), and How to Write a WINNING Synopsis Power Class. If you’ve never been published, then this valuable interaction with an editor will shave DECADES off your learning curve. No joke.

Secret #3—We Are NOT Looking for an Excuse to Stop Reading
Several agents seem to give this same advice to authors. “Editors are looking for any excuse to stop reading. Your job is to not give them ANY excuses.” Though we clung to those words as if our life depended on it as authors, we were really offended to hear this as editors. We imagined an editor reading a query letter, getting to the part that didn’t appeal to her and collapsing back in her chair. “Oh thank GOD I can stop reading!” WRONG! Editors are NOT looking for any excuse to stop reading. We are BEGGING to find a good story! (Refer to Secret #2) We’re on your side! We WANT to find characters to fall in love with and worlds we can escape to and storylines that will keep us up all night, wildly flipping pages, dying to know what happens next! We don’t do this job because of the money (refer to Secret #1). We’re editors because we love to read and we love stories. Now…for the next secret you should sit down. This is going to be quite a shock.

Secret #4—Editors are NOT Gods We’ll give you a moment to recover. (AJ and Arial pat your hand empathetically.) You okay now? Good. Editors are human beings just like authors so do not put them on a pedestal.

There are indeed some editors who enjoy the “Deity” status and therefore abuse the power. Yes, we are the gate keepers of your manuscript, but in all honestly there are editors out there who don’t know their tushies from a hole in the ground. We were surprised to find out how many editors—Big 6 or otherwise—really don’t know their job well enough to do it properly and consequently we cringe at some of the stuff we read. And make no mistake—we’re learning more every day, so we’re not perfect either. This is why it’s important to know your craft…so you know what to defend in your manuscript and can have an educated discussion with your editor when she suggests a change you feel is wrong. Authors are not dogs at the table, scrambling for scraps any publisher is willing to throw to the ground…even though that’s what publishing houses might want you to think. Why? If you think you are one of the very few select authors granted a rare audience through the pearly gates of publishing, you will value the tiny royalties you are paid.

Secret #5—You Can Afford to be Picky Do NOT settle for any publisher. Thanks to the digital explosion, the publishing industry is now in the hands of authors and readers. We’re about to reveal a dark secret that will probably get us black listed—but we are authors first, editors last. Because of self-publishing, publishers are losing talent left and right. True dat! Publishers’ release schedules are growing thin. Some editors are being hassled by their bosses for content, content, content! And they’re publishing almost anything. Contracts are getting tougher to get out of because publishers don’t want authors self-publishing their novels. You’re not off the hook, though. Editors are still trying to find the best talent. They still want a good and easy-to-edit story and they’re asking for short projects. Why? Because publishers get paid faster on short edits. Easier to produce and cheaper to sell. This means two things for us authors: 1. Choose publishers who appeal to you the most—beautiful covers, good quality products, and books that are high on the ranking lists with distributors. Do your research! and Barnes & Noble will let you download samples of any book to your eReader. 2. Shorter projects will not only increase your chances of getting published, you’ll be publishing more, thereby getting more stories under your belt. You’re Not Alone

Mystical Press Services primary goal is to help authors bridge the gap between the form-letter rejection and publication. Through our services and classes, we will coach you—one-on-one—through the problem spots in your manuscript. ALL customers receive a FREE consultation on their work and we’ll help you pinpoint what needs improvement. If you visit our site, be sure to tell us this blog article referred you so your hostess will be recognized. Prizes!!! We want your feedback. What surprises, if any, did this article have for you? How do you think knowing this information will change your writing or the way you submit to publishers? Are you motivated to self-publish? Why or why not? Or do you think we’re just full of hooey? Please be honest. We encourage you to share some of your experiences with rejection letters, self-publishing or the publishing industry. OR if you have any questions, ask away! If you leave a comment or question, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a $25 eGift good toward any services or classes at our website. Good luck and thanks for participating!

Editor Bios

Mystical Press is the culmination of two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—who help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” Come dream with us!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Musa Publishing Author Sloane Taylor joins us on the blog

My new standalone book is hot off the Musa Publishing e-press! With a gorgeous cover designed by Kelly Shorten and the unbeatable editing skills of Elizabeth Silver, that boosted the book to a level 4 Heat Rating, MASQUERADE brings true romance and all the delicious personal bits to life. Read on and see for yourself. Behind every mask is a fragment of truth. BLURB: Chicagoan Clancy Marshall has planned her dream vacation in Venice down to the last detail. From gondola rides to masked balls, and anything else that just happens along, she is determined to experience all pleasures. But those careful plans fly out the door when she literally falls into the arms of a masked stranger. Vittore Ricci comes from an old Venetian family that claims two doges in their lineage. A straight-laced Count and owner of a prestigious hotel, he never does anything without serious consideration. Until a sexy American tourist offers an opportunity no man can refuse. EXCERPT: Green eyes sparkling behind delicate shades of purple feathers held him hostage. Vittore thought he had recognized her the moment she walked onto the pier. When she spoke, he knew his search had finally ended. Determination and desire had persevered. The gods had delivered her into his hands and he wanted to learn more about this mystery woman with her gay laugh and quick wit, even if it was only for one night. Clancy opened her door, then switched on the entry light. At the bedroom, she glanced over her shoulder, the long plumes brushing her creamy bare shoulder. “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be just a moment.” He wandered around the room, straightening the pillows on the sofa, adjusting a wing backed chair and, finally, the magazines scattered across the pecan desktop. It was there he found a handwritten note caught between the pages. A little guilt crept in for snooping, but he shoved it aside, eager to discover more about this sensual woman who intrigued him. Note to Self — Loving Venice 1. Ride in a gondola 2. Climb the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square 3. Attend a masked ball 4. Dance under the stars in St. Mark’s Square 5. Tour a professional kitchen 6. Buy one special piece of Murano glass 7. Fall in love—at least for the night 8. Hear a Vivaldi Concert 9. Attend an opera at the Fenice 10. Vittore reread the paper, paying close attention to number seven. He looked out at the waning moon and sent a prayer of thanks to Raphael the Archangel, the patron saint of happy meetings, for his good fortune. BUY LINK

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BOOKS of the DEAD PRESS: Are you a new writer? Read this.

I read an article posted on the Books of the Dead Press blog and loved it. I am posting it here in it's entirety because the information contained within is JUST THAT VALUABLE. I have said it may times, but the way it is said here bests anything I have ever done on the subject. Enjoy. 

From Books of the Dead Press blog: 
Yesterday I received an email that said: "I wrote a zombie poem and am kinda thinking of expanding it into a children's book. Would you be interested in helping me or point me in the right direction?" 

Every month or so I receive an email like this. Someone new to the writing game is looking for guidance. I understand fully. In fact, I think asking a few questions early on is a smart thing to do. And I can help. I really can. So, if you're a new writer, hold on to your nutsack. This is me pointing you in the right direction. 

Writing isn't about publishing. Writing is about writing. Repeat this statement over and over. Say it every day. Put it on a t-shirt. Tattoo it on your arm. Writing isn't about publishing. Writing is about writing. If you want to be a writer then sit your ass down and start writing. Do it everyday and don't think about publishing. Think about writing. A publisher doesn't want invest time, energy, or money into someone that wrote a book. Publishers invest in writers. A publisher wants to know that ten years after they've published your title, you're still out there, getting attention, writing new stories, making waves. 

How does a publishing company know you plan on being around for a while? By looking at your history. What have you done so far? How many short stories have you published? Have you created a blog? How many blog posts do you have? Do you attend writers conventions? Do you have self-published books? Do you have unpublished books? Do you have a fanbase? What's your writing history? If you don't have a writing history, you are not a writer. At least, not yet. Right now you are a dreamer, and there's nothing wrong with being a dreamer. But publishing companies don't invest in dreamers. They invest in writers. 

But let's pretend you can find a stupid publisher, one that thinks publishing an author's first attempt at a story is a good idea. Think about this: every single author on the planet, at one time or another, usually before they wrote their first book, thought, "I could write a children's book. That would be easier that writing a 'real' book." And because so many people have entertained this thought, a million children's books have been written, the market is completely flooded, and breaking into the children's market the hardest thing an author can do. 

Here's another thing to think about: YOU SUCK. 

I'm not being insulting, not being funny. I'm being honest. You suck. You suck long and you suck hard. If you're just starting, you're awful, and you need to know it. I mean, REALLY know it. If you've been playing guitar for a couple months, how good are you? Are you ready to play a gig? Are you ready to record an album? Are you ready to ask investors - a.k.a. record companies - to invest in you? No. Of course not. Why? Because: It takes five years to NOT SUCK. And even longer to get beyond 'average'. 

With music, knowing you suck is easy. Because… you can't play your instrument to save your life, and it's obvious. With writing it's not so obvious because writing is a skill that most people have… at least to a certain degree. But it still takes five years to go from 'I learned how to read and write in school' to 'I'm starting to have an ounce of value in the entertainment industry'. 

Oh yeah - there's something else to keep in mind. 

Reading fiction is a form of entertainment. 

Writers are in the entertainment industry. Can you ride a bicycle? Yes. Can you write a story? Yes. Can you ride a bicycle well enough that people should pay to watch you do it, because you're so unbelievably entertaining? No. Can you write a story well enough that people should pay to read it, because you're so unbelievably entertaining? No. So there it is. 

Writing is about writing, not publishing. 
Publishing companies invest in writers, not dreamers. 
And until you've been writing for five years, you suck.

Like what you see? Please support Books of the Dead by purchasing one of their books. Thank you!

We Welcome Musa Publishing Author, Sara Daniels

by Sara Daniel (Samantha's note: Sara's new release is coming from Musa Publishing on 10-19-12)
Early this year when Musa posted a submissions call for a series called Finally Ever After, I jumped at the opportunity. The stories were to be short, happily ever romances about lovers who have loved each other and lost. Now, they have a second chance to create the happy ending they didn’t get the first time. I love characters with a past history, especially in a short word count. They have instant attraction and long-standing unresolved conflict—the perfect elements for a fast-paced, emotion-packed read. Zane’s Art had all these things coupled with a strong present conflict. The story flowed out of me so fast I knew it was meant to be! Here's little from Zane's Art for your reading pleasure.
A high school art teacher must choose between her students and the artist she never stopped loving. High school art teacher Julianne Truman's last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old sketches that her former boyfriend—and now famous artist—Zane DeMonde drew for her. But is she prepared to let go of his artwork and the last traces of him in her life? Desperate to save his artistic reputation from the exposure of his early works, Zane returns to the home town he wanted to forget. He accuses Julianne of profiting from his success and demands she take his art off the market and cancel the auction. Their high school attraction flares back to life, forcing Julianne to choose between the students who count on her and the man she never stopped loving. EXCERPT: “Cancel the auction.” Julianne Truman’s head snapped around at the hard male voice. The stapler fell from her hand and cracked open on the floor, as she caught sight of the extraordinary face that went with the voice. Her knees shook as she climbed down the ladder. She hadn’t faced Zane DeMonde in nearly fifteen years. At one time she’d believed he’d be part of every single day of her future. “Zane, I didn’t expect you to come.” She stepped toward him. His black hair was a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him, but at shoulder length it was still far longer than most men’s. Gone were the black hoodie and ripped jeans of his youth. Now he wore chinos and a sharply pressed blue button-down shirt, open at the neck. The dark storms in his cobalt blue eyes were exactly the same as the day he’d walked away from her. “Cancel the auction. The sketches and painting are not for sale.” She swallowed. “I own them. If I choose to sell them, that’s my business.” And it was breaking her heart to part with the only piece of him that she’d been able to hang onto all these years. “When they have my name on them and you’re getting rich off me, it’s my business.” Getting rich was so far from the truth Julianne would have laughed if her chest weren’t so tight. “It’s an honor to have you back in town.” At least her students would think so. Her brother would likely burst an artery. And she—well, she couldn’t even begin to process the mix of emotions she was feeling. “Do you have a minute to talk? I can explain what’s going on.” “I know what’s going on.” She hoped he couldn’t hear how hard her heart was hammering or sense how desperately she longed to wrap her arms around him and pick up where they left off fifteen years ago, as if he’d never left her. “Then you know that the arts are at the bottom of the school district’s priority list. To have supplies for the classroom, to restore the school mural, to give my students a chance to explore different mediums, the art program needs an alternate source of funding.” “You’re the Dentonville High art teacher?” She couldn’t help feeling defensive at his derisive tone. “Yes, and I love my job.” “Do you? Or have you never moved beyond your high school life?” BUY LINK To learn more about Sara Daniel and her work, please visit her website and blog. Stay connected on Sara's Facebook page and her Sara Shafer page. Remember, Sara is also only a tweet away.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What if "No Power" Could Happen? I am Intrigued by a new tv show

I have been watching the new show on television called Revolution.  In it, earth has lost all power, (we don't yet know how or why, a la "LOST") and we get to see when it happened, just after it happened, and more than a decade following the event.  I was intrigued by the commercials and more than a few minutes long teasers, and I am absolutely enthralled with the actual show.  Its the best validation of the saying, "What if...starts all the best stories."

I have been enlightened to my dependency on electricity.  I was recently sick for two days, and when I returned to work I had a record number of voice mails and emails.  And that's just for two
days.  So, I got to thinking...what would my life be like without power?

A Day In The Life With No Power:

  • First, I wake up late because I have no alarm.  
  • I take a shower but I can't blow dry my hair so I look like crap.  That's okay though, because without power, there are no supermodels.  Score!
  • I make the kids breakfast with NO microwave and they still miss Eggos in the toaster.  Which now just stores notebooks.
  • I ride my bike to work since I only work three miles away.  It still kills me.  Also, I have not been able to get the car out of the garage since the power went out.  I use the van for an extra closet now.
  • At work, there is no coffee machine so everyone has their own thermos full of the sweet elixir.  Sometimes two thermoses look alike and there is a fist fight in the lobby.  It breaks up the monotony of the day and a break from handwriting everything.
  • Paychecks still come on Friday, but they are in scrip.  I pedal like a maniac to the store to get fresh kill for supper.  On the other side of town, Husband is pedaling like mad too.  Whoever gets there first doesn't have to heat up water for the kids baths.  And drag it in buckets upstairs.
  • Weekends we take turns guarding our stockpile and laugh about shows we used to watch, especially Coupon Clippers and Honey Boo Boo.  Then we stop laughing when we realize, we live a LOT like Honey Boo Boo now.
I know there are other modern conveniences we would miss, but these are the ones that readily come to mind.  What POWERful extravagance would you miss most?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So You Think You Can Write Contest

You have heard me speak here of my newest completed project, a dark YA Paranormal called The Deadlies.  Well, I am trying new things out with this one, same as i did for both my adult horror collections, just to see how things work.  With The Deadlies, I have entered both a pitch and the first chapter in a contest being run by Harlequin.  They are actively scouting for new authors and came up with this cool way to find them.

I entered a couple weeks ago, and as of yesterday, my pitch became live.  You can go to the site and vote for mine or any others you enjoy.  because of the dark nature of my story, I chose to pitch for the Harlequin Nocturne line. I would have gone for the Harlequin Teen line, but they weren't part of the contest.

I value the opinions of most who frequent my site, so I am asking not only for your vote, but your critique and opinion as well.  Go here: and read my work and see if you like it enough to vote for it.  An agent will be selecting the manuscripts she wants to read based on the pitches on this contest.

And if you have a pitch, get on in there!  There are more than enough agents and manuscripts to go around!