Friday, October 30, 2009

Ghosts and such

Tomorrow is Halloween. It's the time for ghosts, goblins, vampires and such to take to the streets and school or church sponsored parties.

Instead of eating candy, gorge yourself on a good spine-tingling book. Stephen King and Peter Straub come immediately to mind.

This is where I do a little horn tooting and suggest my own, Ghost for Rent. This middle grade novel is perfect for reading on Halloween or any other day when your son or daughter, ages 9-12, might be looking for a little taste of a paranormal mystery.

Check out my web site: for an excerpt and reviews. Or, go straight to Hardshell Word Factory for a print copy or Fictionwise for download. It is also available in Kindle at Amazon.

Happy Halloween.
Ghost for Rent:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview with author Marilyn Meredith

Today as my guest, I'm pleased to talk with the talented Marilyn Meredith. Ms. Merdith has agreed to answer some questions about her books and the writing craft.

1. Marilyn, would you first tell us a little about yourself and what led you to a writing career?

I've always written--stories and plays when I was a kid; as a young adult and mom, plays for my Camp Fire Girls, PTA newsletters, then my first novel, an historical family saga based on my own family genealogy. That was the first book published--but took a very long time to get to that point. I wrote a second family saga based on the other side of my family too. After it was published, knew I wanted to continue writing, but wasn't sure what. Decided on mysteries since that's what I loved to read.

2. What is your writing process?

When I'm starting a new book I begin gathering materials about some of the subjects I think I might like to write about. I think about what I'm going to write, jot down notes and information about characters, but I don't really do a detailed plot. When I have enough to get started, I try to think of a good place to begin and I sit down in front of the computer and write.

I try to write every single day except Sunday. Mornings are my best writing time, but when I really into the story, I might write whenever I have a free hour or two.

I read every chapter to my writing critique group. I think of them as my first editor. I do a lot of rewriting too.

3. How did you become interested in writing mysteries?

I sort of answered that in the first question. I've always loved mysteries and it seemed like the logical next step in my writing career.

4. Does mystery writing have certain rules a writer should follow? What are they?

Yes, of course. The rules about writing well apply to mystery writing too. That's why there are so many books about writing and writing mysteries.

The biggest rule for mysteries is to play fair with the reader. The reader ought to know as much about what is going on as the sleuth and be able to try and figure out who the guilty part is--though it's always fun to surprise the reader.

5. In Dispel the Mist, Tempe eats out and cooks a lot. Why do you feel food is so important to your story telling?

I like to read about food in books--in fact it irritates me when food or eating is never mentioned in a book. In real life people are always wondering what they are going to have or fix for dinner. Tempe isn't much of a cook--but her husband Hutch is.

6. Tempe Crabtree is Native American and you have set this series on a fictional reservation. What are your ties to Native Americans and have you spent time on a reservation?

We live very close to the Tule River Indian Reservation (the reservation that I borrow from for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries) and in fact, I can see the back of the mountains that is part of the reservation from my house.

I have a great-grandaughter who is a quarter Tule River Indian, and a daughter-in-law and granddaughter who are part Yaqui. Except for the fact that they are all beautiful, I know they are not any different from the rest of us because of their Native American blood.

7. How do you research your books?

My research is different for every one of my books. For Dispel the Mist I learned about the Hairy Man and was fortunate to be able to go with the college's anthropology class to visit the Painted Rock to see the pictorgraphs. Once I saw these 500 to 1000 years old drawings, I knew I had to write a story about Tempe that incorporated the Hairy Man. Often the idea comes first, something that intrigues me, and I do what research is necessary after that.

8. You've published a number of books. What other genres do you write and which is your favorite?

Besides the historical family sagas, I've written ghost stories, psychological horror, and Christian horror. Whatever I happen to be writing is my favorite at the time--but right now mystery is my favorite.

9. Are all of your books published with Mundania Press, and how did you find your publishers?

I've had many publishers over the years. Right now Mundania Press is publishing my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. I met the publisher at a writing conference and asked him if he'd be interested in publishing the series. This was after the first publisher passed away.

Oaktree Press publishes my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. The previous publisher decided to cease her business. I'd met the Oaktree Press publisher at a conference and asked her if she'd like to publish the next book in the series. I spoke at a conference she was giving, and I signed the contract while I was there.

10. Do you have an agent, and do you think an agent is important for new writers?

Over the years I've had several agents, but don't have one now. Because I'm with small, independent publishers, I don't really need an agent. But if an author wants to be published by a larger New York publisher, an agent is the only way to get one. Because I kept writing books and wasn't getting any younger, I decided finding a publisher myself was the way to go for me.

11. What is your marketing technique, and, if you don't mind my asking, how much of your own money do you spend promoting your books?

I do a lot of online promotion like this kind of interview. I'm on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. I belong to MWA, Sisters in Crime, Epic, and the Public Safety Writers Association.

I go to conferences and conventions every year--my favorites are Epicon, Mayhem in the Midlands, PSWA's conference, and next year I'll be going to Bouchercon again. I also like Left Coast Crime, but haven't attended for a couple of years.

Book and craft fairs and festivals are also favorites of mine. I love speaking at libraries and for service and social groups.

When I go out of town, of course it's expensive if I have to fly and stay in a hotel. My hubby often goes with me and it seems like a vacation.

12. I see you are an instructor for Writers Digest School. How did you become involved with doing this?

I'm no longer working for them, but I was an instructor for ten years. I loved it. It's been awhile, but I believe I applied and was accepted more or less like any job.

13. Where can readers find out more about Marilyn Meredith?

My website: has lots of information on it. Also I have a blog: and I try to blog every day. I also have a monthly newsletter and if anyone wants to subscribe she/he can write to me at: and put Newsletter or Subscribe in the Subject.

14. Do you have any tips for new writers hoping to become novelists?

Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Read the kind of books you want to write. Then write, write, write--and rewrite until it's as perfect as you can make it. When you are at the stage where you're ready to submit to an agent or editor, read their guidelines carefully and submit exactly the way they've asked.

Marilyn, I appreciate your taking time from your busy writing schedule to share this information with me. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review Dispel the Mists

Dispel the Mist
Author: Marilyn Meredith
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59426-402-3
eBook ISNB: 978-978-1-59426-403-0
Published by: Mundania Press LLC

Dispel the Mist, is another intriguing mystery in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, written by talented author, Marilyn Meredith. While this is part of a series, the book stands alone. Dispel the Mist immediately pulls the reader into the problem at hand and keeps up the pace for a suspense-filled adventure. Ms. Meredith weaves a story, peopled with believable characters, delightful aromas, and credible scenery.
Set in an around the fictitious Bear Creek Reservation, Tempe is a deputy sheriff reassigned from her usual job handing out parking tickets to a possible murder investigation. High profile Supervisor Lilia Quintera drops dead from what appears to be a heart attack. Since she was a healthy, active woman with no history of heart problems, the local police decide to launch an investigation.
As Lilia was half Indian, lead detective Morrison, calls in Tempe believing her own Native American ancestry will be a help in getting answers to several troubling questions. Lilia has made several enemies both in her support of a group home for developmentally disabled people and her non-support of a proposed Indian owned and operated resort complex. As Tempe delves into the problems surrounding Lilia's death, she finds Lilia's husband, as a former nurse, is the prime suspect. Other people, however, have motive and access such as Lilia's sister, Connie, the antagonistic group home neighbor, Duane Whitney, and Tempe's own mentor, Nick Two John.
Tempe is troubled by dreams of her grandmother and the legend of the Hairy Man, a mythical creature who together with the other animals was responsible for the creation of man. Tempe seems no closer to solving the mystery of Lilia's death when she gets a strange phone call warning her to stay away from the Painted Rock. A trip to visit old friends on the reservation includes a visit to the Painted Rock where Tempe is surprised to find a pictograph of the Hairy Man and has an olfactory vision of wood burning and food cooking. Why would someone warn her away from this spirit filled area? Why is she having these dreams of the Hairy Man?
As the book draws to a close, Tempe receives a call to return to the Painted Rock, apparently from Detective Morrison's assistant. It's dark, the roads are narrow and winding, a thunderstorm is brewing. What will Tempe find at the Painted Rock? Is it really Detective Morrison waiting for her? Has he found out who killed Lilia Quintera? Does Tempe have an unknown protector? Read Dispel the Mist for the surprising answer to these and other questions.
If you enjoy Dispel the Mist, look for the other Tempe Crabtree mystery books.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interview with author VS Grenier

INTERVIEW with author VS Grenier

I am pleased to have multi-talented writer, publisher, and editor, VS Grenier as my guest today.

Virginia has agreed to answer some questions about writing and her latest book, Babysitting SugarPaw.INTERVIEW with author, VS Grenierestions about writing and her
latest book, Babysitting Sugarpaw.

1. Virginia, please tell me a little about yourself and how you became a

Well I'm a mother of two (soon to be three) wonderful children. My background isn't in writing, but merchandise Marketing. I learned how to hone my writing skills at the Institute of Children ’s Literature a year after the birth of my daughter. The idea was to write as a hobby while staying home and raising my kids. I never really dreamed of becoming published. I figured if I did great, if not . . . well at least I'm having fun.

2. How did you come up with the idea for Babysitting SugarPaw?

I got the idea from a picture I saw while working on one of my ICL assignments. I first wrote the story as a magazine short story for younger kids. Later I expanded, changed, and revised the story into a picture book after sharing the story with Kevin Collier who did the first short story illustration for StoryBox Library. He thought it would make a cute picture book so I set to work. Some of the antics
SugarPaw pulls are from my own childhood . . . while others are things my children have done.

3. How is writing for children different from writing for adults?

Yes, you have to write a story that engages young readers while showing how the characters have grown either externally or internally without a bold moral. Children don't like in your face lessons in stories anymore. You also have to write tight . . . meaning you can't have a lot of unnecessary details. You'll lose your
readers. Adults I think are a bit more forgiving when an author has more detail than needed to tell a story.

4. What is the process for writing a picture book for children?

That's a hard one to really put into words. Besides having a beginning, middle, and end . . . you need to be able to develop you characters in under 1000 words while also telling story that engages your reader. Not easily done. You also need to use little description because the pictures will show that part of the story for you. However, you have to have just enough description so the illustrator can see your characters as you see them, too.

5. How did you find your publisher, Halo Publishing International?

I actually work as a freelance editor for Halo Publishing, but that doesn't mean I didn't go through the same submission process all authors go through. My manuscript had to be reviewed by a panel of editor just like everyone elses does and I also had to come up with a marketing plan to show how I would help to sell the book if published as well. I also had to have my book editing by another editor and go through all the other steps a book goes through before it hits the presses.

6. Do you have an agent and do feel it's important for new writers to
have one?

I don't have an agent because right now I only write short stories, articles, and picture books. Normally you don't need an agent for those areas in children's writing. But I have looked around in case I decided to send my YA novel off one of
these days. Most likely I'll stand a better chance at publication with an agent when it comes to chapter books and novels I write. This is because most publishers don't look at manuscripts sent in by the author. They like agented submissions.

7. What types of marketing techniques do you use to promote your work?

Interviews (radio, blog, etc), book signings, school visits, contests, teaming up with companies such as First Book, book fesitivals, community events, and so on. One of the best things to do is try and think out side of the box.

8. I know you've also written non-fiction writing articles and publish
both a writing newsletter
and a children's magazine ( What
other types of writing do you do?

That's really it besides my books I'm still working on and submitting. Running Stories for Children Publishing, LLC pretty much keeps me busy when my kids and family aren't.

9. Where can readers learn more about VS Grenier?

On my author website

10. Any tips for new writers wanting to enter the field of children's

Join a writer's group such a critique groups or workshops. Read the type of books you want to write so you know what's already out there and selling.
Read interviews on authors in your genre of writing. No you'll always have revisions even after you get an acceptance. And never give up.

Virginia, thank you for being here today and answering my questions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review Babysitting Sugarpaw

Babysitting SugarPaw
Author: VS Grenier
Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier
ISBN: 978-1-935268-06-2
Halo Publishing International

VS Grenier has written a delightful book, Babysitting SugarPaw, for 3 to 8 year old readers and their parents. Every parent and child dreads the first time a babysitter comes to the house. What will happen? How will the child react to his parents leaving? How will the babysitter deal with misbehavers?

Ms. Grenier addresses the issues of honesty and friendship in a fun to read story with wonderful full-color illustrations. Bonnie Whiskers never babysat for SugarPaw Bear before and what she finds is a young bear with ideas of his own on what he can and can't do.

Little SugarPaw doesn't make it easy for Bonnie Whiskers, but she finds positive ways to deal with SugarPaw's devious plans. Read along as SugarPaw tries his hardest to make life difficult for Bonnie. Does Bonnie survive her night of babysitting? Does Sugarpaw get his own way? Will Bonnie come back to babysit again?

Whether you are a parent thinking of getting a babysitter, or a young adult heading out to babysit for the first time, read Babysitting SugarPaw to find out the answers to these questions.

Now a little bit about Ms.Grenier and how she is using her book to help children learn to read.

Utah Author Helps Bring Children Their First Book

Author VS Grenier, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Stories for Children Magazine, celebrates her debut picture book, Babysitting Sugarpaw, about the importance of telling the truth and getting to know others. When asked what inspired Grenier to write this particular story, she said, “I really enjoyed writing Babysitting SugarPaw which is based off some of the antics I pulled as a child with my babysitters. I feel children will love the mischief SugarPaw creates and parents will appreciate the subtle ways Bonnie Whiskers teaches how to be honest and a good friend.

“I love writing children’s books! I finish one book and then get another idea from my own childhood or from my kids. It takes all my talent to create a book, run Stories for Children Magazine, and raise my children. But, I love it! It is such a surprising turn in the road to finally see one of my books in print. I hope to bring many more to children and share with them my love of the World of Ink.”

VS Grenier has also joined forces with First Book to help children find the love of reading and writing. Here is what Bonnie Johnson from First Book had to say about Grenier joining their cause.

"First Book provides new books to children in need addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. Since 1992, First Book has distributed over 65 million new books to children from low-income families in thousands of communities nationwide.

"Programs that serve predominantly children from low-income families can receive books from First Book and that is why VS Grenier has joined First Book in our fight to bring children their first book.

"First Book works with many different authors and/or publishers big and small! We are thrilled to be working with VS Grenier at First Book in our donation program. We have done similar donations and generally because First Book works with thousands of recipient groups across the country we try to find a group near an author and/or publisher that could benefit from a donation such as this."

So how can you help VS Grenier give children their first book? You can help Grenier bring a child their first book a few different ways. The process is simple and anyone can help.

1. Place an order for an autographed copy of Babysitting SugarPaw and 25% of the sale will go to books for First Book. Place your order at

2. Buy and donate Babysitting SugarPaw to First Book. Once we reach the 100 book level First Book will proceed in donating the books to a group in VS Grenier's area. Place your donation at

3. Tell your friends about Babysitting SugarPaw and how VS Grenier has joined First Book in bring children their first book.

If you would like to know more about First Book please visit their website at

To learn more about VS Grenier and Babysitting SugarPaw visit

To learn more about Stories for Children Magazine visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Muse On Line Writing Conference 2009

The Muse Online Writers Conference is over until next year. Once again, Lea Schizas, founding mother of the conference gathered some of the finest talent to share their knowledge and expertise with thousands of writers from all over the globe.

For those of you who missed the conference, here’s the list of workshops which were offered:
12 Stages of the Writer's Adventure with Beth Barany
Adding Suspense with JD Webb and Pepper Smith
Article Marketing with Jan Verhoeff
Assaulting A Writer's Thinking with Lea Schizas
BEFORE COPY EDITING with Claudia Suzanne
Bipolars Don't Twitch: Mental Illness Workshop with Cathy Chance
"Blogging Your Way to Greater Recognition-and More Sales" with Joyce Anthony Building Blocks of Fiction Writing: Characterization and Plotting with Tambra Kendall
Creative Block Buster 2 with Lisa Gentile
Creative Calisthenics with Terri Main
CRIT GROUPS 101 with Missye K. Clarke
Decorate Your Work with Sprigs of Humor with Ron Berry
DialogueWorkshop with Devon Ellington
Editing and Book Design: What Happens When You Have Finished Writing Your Book with Jill Ronsley
Facing your fear of writing with Tamlyn Leigh
Fine Tuning the Senses with Jane Bernard
Finding Your Writing Voice Through Personal Essays with Ann Hite
First Pages and the YA market with Kim Baccellia
Frugal Writer’s Guide to Web Sites with Susan K. Stewart
How To Promote When You Don't Know How with Jamieson Wolf
How to Write Power Sentences with June Diehl
How to Write Your Bio, Get a Headshot & More with Sheri Gormley
Infusing The Romance Novel With Emotional And Sexual Tension with Laurie Sanders
It's All About You! Writing Personal Stories with Carol Celeste
Knocking on Heaven's Door with Chantelle Osman
Monsters and Mayhem with Christina Barber
Non-Verbal Communication - with Margaret McGaffey Fisk
On Being a Professional Amateur with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Pet Writing for the Beginner with Carolyn Ettinger
"Pick Your Poison" with Joyce Anthony
Pre-Publisher Book Marketing with Karina Fabian
Pump Up Your Opening with Earl Staggs
Research Workshop with Susan K. Stewart
“Schizophrenic Doesn't Mean Multiple Personality" with Joyce Anthony
"So, you want to be a Freelance Writer" with Bob Medak
True Lies - Writing Covert Training and Missions for Fiction Writers with D.S. Kane Using Social Media to Attract Readers with Cheryl Corbin
Using TLC for go AFTER the Money with Dyanne Davis
Website Makeover with C.F. Jackson
When Viewpoints Stray...So Do Readers with Phyllis Campbell
"World Building in Science Fiction and Fantasy," with Christine Amsden Writing the Short Screenplay: From Concept to “Fade Out” with Kristin Johnson
Write as Tight as Granny's New Girdle with Margot Finke
Writing a Teacher's Guide to Accompany Your Children's Book with Carol J. Amato Writing for kids and teens with Beverly S. McClure
Writing for love and Money with Dyanne Davis
Writing for the Trades: How to Make Money Writing Non-Fiction - And How NOT to P*SS Off Those You Need to Interview! with Linda J. Hutchinson
Writing Love Scenes That Sizzle with Tambra Kendall
Writing with Impact with Dr. Bob Rich
WRITING RESOURCES 101 by Mary Andrews
The Art and Science of Self-Publishing with Susan K. Stewart

In addition to these fabulous workshops which were available 24/7, several publishing houses and agents were available for live pitch sessions. Many of the workshop presenters also participated in live chat sessions.

If you didn’t have an opportunity to sign up for this year’s conference, be sure to sign up for next year’s. Information about registration will be available in November at the Muse Conference home page Stop by to see some of the testimonials of attendees this year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

National Writing Day

October 20, 2009 is National Writing Day. Join the fun and check out how you can participate by going to their web page

You can submit your writing, start a gallery, look at writing tips, read writing samples from published writers, and popular writers and celebrities talk about writing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gone for the Week

Greetings fellow writers. I just wanted to let you know, I'll be gone for this week. I'm attending the annual Muse Online (free) Writers Conference. If you didn't sign up for it this year, registrations will be available probably in November. It's a great conference with a lot of talented people dedicating and volunteering their time to making it a success.

This year, I'm volunteering as a chat moderator and helping to save those chats for people who miss them. It was time for me to give back after attending the conference for so many years. In addition to the live chats, there is also a week long forum where you can post questions, do exercises, and get feedback from other participants and the presenters.

Here's the web site so check it out:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Inteviews with The Zombie Cookbook contributors (continued)

Today, our first guest from The Zombie Cookbook is Lisa Haselton.

1. Hi Lisa, what attracted you to this particular anthology?

It sounded like fun...a zombie cookbook.

2. How did you research this market to see if your story would fit with
their needs?

I didn't, actually. I saw Kim's call for submissions and let 'zombie' and 'cookbook' percolate in my mind for a while, then one night a slew of poems came to me. I sent in my best one and it was accepted, and that prompted me to want to write a short story. That took longer to pull together, but it all worked out.

3. What is your process for writing a horror piece?

I sit down with an idea and write. I have a natural inclination to include a bit of horror in just about anything I write. Sometimes I'll sit down and think I'm writing a happy story about a mom walking her child in the park when I blink and the
child is, well, I won't get horrific, so I'll just say, that the child turns
into a monster and Mom doesn't survive.

4. Is horror your specialty? If not, what do you prefer to write and why?

I don't know if it's a specialty, but I always enjoy writing it. I write
in several genres.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

Well, the poem just came to me while I was trying to sleep. And then I wanted to tie the story into the poem, and that took some work. I'd never written about zombies
before and didn't know much about them. A friend told me they have an
aversion to salt, so I did a few Google searches and got some details. I let
the information sit for a while and eventually I sketched out a story while
I was on vacation that seemed to work. I didn't want to make it gory, my
story is a bit upbeat for a zombie tale, I think.

6. Tell us a bit about your other work.

I have short mysteries and other fiction published. My first romance novel was published earlier this year. This was not a genre I ever thought I'd focus on, but now I have my second novel coming out by the end of the year. It's a nice change of pace. I have agent interest in a paranormal thriller. I also have some haikus published. I write non-fiction, too, for magazines.

7. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

You can look me up at and

8. Any tips for writers thinking about submitting to an anthology?

I think anthologies are great for getting exposure - your name gets mixed
with others in the business. My first 'anthology' was a short essay in a
calendar last year. Now I have The Zombie Cookbook this year. I have a haiku
in a calendar for next year and am striving for short stories in different
genres. Follow the guidelines and submit on time are my biggest tips - along
with proofing the submission before mailing it in.

Thanks, Lisa.

We also have Cinsearae Santiago with us to answer these same questions.

1. Cinsearae, what attracted you to this particular anthology?

Along with straight horror, I also like horror comedy, and doing a horror comedy concerning zombies sounded like fun, *lol*. The title, “The Zombie Cookbook” alone sounded like a hoot!

2. How did you research this market to see if your story would fit with their needs? specializes in all types of dark fiction, which is right up my alley. I’m also on board as a Book Cover Artist, having designed the cover for the anthology, so I pretty much knew the ins and outs already.

3. What is your process for writing a horror piece?

Oh, that’s easy. I just look at the world’s current events, and how people act towards each other in this day and age. Human behavior plays a big part of what I incorporate into a horror story.

4. Is horror your specialty? If not, what do you prefer to write and why?

Horror is part of my specialty. I write Paranormal Romance, but with a much darker edge to it. I’m not a real believer in h.e.a’s and fairy-tale endings. That’s all cute and everything, but I prefer stories with tension, drama, something to keep me on edge, wanting more. The eeriness and horror aspects only adds more excitement These are the stories I like to create.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

I’m not quite sure, *lol*. I heard a voice in my head yelling about ‘the human condition’, and I suddenly had an idea. How would a zombie in this day and age respond and react to eating certain types of people---those on medication, ones with artificial parts, implants, ones that strictly have junk-food diets…the list was endless! It became a comedy because this ‘poor zombie’ cannot find a plain, ‘untainted’ meal and makes a few wisecracks about us humans. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, to say the least!

6. Tell us a bit about your other work.

I’m currently working on a Dark Paranormal Romance series, ABRAXAS, which features a slightly different kind of ‘vampire’, amongst other ghoulies, demons, ghosts and beasties. Magic also abounds, and I’m currently working on the 5th book in the series, due out next year. Anyone interested is more than welcome to visit

I’m also Editor/Publisher of Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine, which specializes in the Gothic/horror/paranormal genres. It comes out twice a year in the spring and fall. I also founded the Gratista Vampire Clan dark writers group, and we publish a bi-annual anthology with assorted themes in the genre. We’re over at

8. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

They can visit my homepage, for all sorts of info, free downloads of book excerpts, view book trailers, and lots of other goodies.

9. Any tips for writers thinking about submitting to an anthology?

Research the market first and foremost. Read their guidelines carefully, and always give the editor your best, polished work!

Our final guest for today is Linda Neiswender.

1. Hi Linda, tell me what attracted you to this particular anthology?

The Zombie Cookbook was so different, zombies plus recipes- how could I resist? It appealed to my sense of fun and started my mental wheels turning immediately. The story almost wrote itself.

2. How did you research this market to see if your story would fit with their needs?

The market seemed pretty much wide open on this one, not too many zombie cookbooks out there other than the rock band by the same name. So I ran with my original idea, as the guidelines said they were open to anything new.

3. What is your process for writing a horror piece?

I start with the horror focus, in this cased zombies, and try to see if I could give any different spin to it. I also like to throw in some humor with the horror, not being a strictly blood and guts kind of gal. This is only my third horror piece, for Heaven's sake!

4. Is horror your specialty? If not, what do you prefer to write and why?

I haven't written enough to have a specialty yet, but speculative fiction is what I write the most, especially flash speculative fiction. Just growing up in the South, hearing the rich language, I lean towards literary fiction as well. I guess you can say I write all over the place.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

"Zombie + recipes + letters + editor + mayhem = story" was pretty much it, with some humor tossed in to cut the gore. I just brainstormed it after I wrote the initial letters, deciding to kill off the Zombie Cookbook's imaginary editor. Sorry Kim Richards.

6. Tell us a bit about your other work.

I've been published in flash fiction and poetry, and have several partially completed novels lurking in my bottom drawer. I'm a writing newbie as far as publication goes, but my love of writing has been life-long. I want to see some new publishing credits so I'm firing up the story machine in my noggin and may be tackling some new arenas like literary fiction and fantasy.

7. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

My general blog is Land of Lin at, and I hope to have a writing blog up soon, once I get a decent picture of myself without the Yeti headgear (yes that is my writing hat for tough scenes, to scare my brain into making that word quota).

8. Any tips for writers thinking about submitting to an anthology?

Do some research on the publisher's other anthologies if possible and follow submission guidelines to the letter. Write your piece to the call for submission if you can rather than submitting something you already have as a “make do.” You'll stand a better chance at acceptance.

My thanks to all these wonderful writers for sharing their useful writing tips.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Contest and Giveaway

Patricia Altner has interviewed Jeanne Stein, author of the vampire series, Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. You can read this interview at Patricia's Vampire Notes:

At the end of the interview with Ms. Stein, there is a contest. If you're at all interested in reading vampire stories, you may want to check this out. The series looks like an interesting read.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Author and Editor Interviews, The Zombie Cookbook

Today I have a couple of authors and the editor of The Zombie Cookbook visiting. Thank you all for stopping by.

First, let's talk with the editor, Kim Richards, the brains behind The Zombie Cookbook.

1. Where did the idea for The Zombie Cookbook originate?

We had just completed the paperwork for getting the business, Damnation Books started. All those city, state, county and federal it any wonder zombies came to mind?

I've been involved with Writer's Chatroom ( for a number of years. The group is well known to kick start ideas which ended up published by members. We started making zombie jokes during a live chat. I basically decided, as CEO of Damnation Books to make this a real project. Okay I admit it's my pet project. The original intent was to make it Writer's Chatroom only but when a couple of stories came in through the slush pile which fit perfectly, we opened it up. Just like with real zombies, it started small and unnoticed, then exploded exponentially!

2. What was the selection process for stories which were included?

The process was the same as for any other story we look at for Damnation Books. Yes, I did have to reject someone I know. They were very gracious about it but hey, this is a BUSINESS. Stories had to fit the posted writer's guidelines for length, formatting, etc. They had to be good plots, interesting characters and fun to read. That said, we typically want short fiction to be over 5,000 words but made an exception because of the cookbook theme of The Zombie Cookbook. Anthologies are different animals than a short story on its own. Besides who wants to read a recipe longer than a page or two?

3. Two authors had two pieces selected. Is this unusual for an editor to pick more than one story from one author? Why?

I don't think it's all that unusual. Some of the anthologies I'm personally published in have multiple works by the same author. When a story is good, it's good. In the case of The Zombie Cookbook, Lisa Haselton's poem is about the zombie in her story so the two go together. I liked that. Now with the two stories by Karina Fabian, they're both fun, witty and exactly what we had in mind for this book. Once you read them, you'll know why we wanted them both.

4. Have you edited any other collections? How did this selection process differ?

I have both with Damnation Books and previously. The other collection is Blanket of White by Amy Grech. It's a reprint we picked up when her publisher folded so it really didn't need much in the way of editing. Amy did add two new stories just for us. Outside of Damnation Books, I've done some non-fiction, which is different. Fiction anthologies or collections have an interconnecting theme or mood, where non-fiction has specific information it needs to present.

5. Tell us about your other writing projects.

Both my partner and I have been told we're ambitious with undertaking Damnation Books. In part because we decided to start out with a bang: 25 titles right off. There's two reasons: the first is some distributors won't take a company on until they have 20-25 titles published. The second, and biggest, reason is we want readers to have a variety of choice. We want people to come to our website and be wowed.
We're also releasing new books quarterly March, June, September and December.

6. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

Just that there is a new publishing house just for dark fiction. Many of the ebook companies do some dark fiction but they're few and far between. We want to specialize in the stuff we love. There's nothing wrong with romance but it's frustrating when you have to wade through those to get to the darker stories when romance isn't your thing.

7. Are you planning any other anthologies? What themes?

We plan to do more but don't have any on the drawing board. Keep an eye out for our guidelines or follow us on any of a number of social sites: twitter, facebook, myspace, goodreads, shelfari, library thing. We'll post when there's news of a new one. We are hoping to do print anthologies of some of our short stories. Right now the ideas are for a "Year's Best" or "Reader's Choice" but again that's a bit in the future.

8. Any suggestions for writers wanting to submit to an anthology?

The best advice I ever received is when you see a call for stories, write down ten ideas. Then throw them all out and write what comes next. The first ten will be all the stereotypes and overdone themes. After you pass them, you start getting to your creative core.

That's for writers who write stories just for an anthology. The other way is to write the stories as they come to you and file them until you see a submissions call they fit. Both are legitimate. As always, read-then-follow the writer's guidelines. You'd be amazed at how many writers don't.

Thanks, Kim. Next, we have Karina Fabian, who authored two of the stories in the anthology.

1. Hi Karina,what attracted you to this particular anthology?

Kim's a good friend from The Writers Chatroom, and I was eager to help her launch her new publishing house. Then, of course, who could resist an anthology called "The Zombie Cookbook?" Even so, I will admit, it took some nagging from Rebecca Butcher, another contributor and friend, to get me writing. This spring and summer, we moved, and I was helping organize a major writers' conference, plus I was writing a novel. However, once Becca pushed and I got an idea, it was quick and fun to write. "Wokking Dead" took about an hour and a half, and I was giggling the whole time. In fact, I was so tickled by it, I decided to set the novel aside and write "My Big, Fat, Zombie Wedding."

Sometimes, ideas just grab you by the throat and demand your braaaaiiins.

2. How did you research this market to see if your story would fit with their needs?

I didn't. Kim had given us a good idea what she wanted during chats in The Writers Chatroom.

3. What is your process for writing a horror piece?

Well, mine aren't horror. More like comedy horror, emphasis on the comedy. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I get an idea, mull it over and start. When I run into a snag or research need, I jump onto Google, get my answer, and keep on going.

4. Is horror your specialty? If not, what do you prefer to write and why?

I write fantasy and sci-fi, with a liberal dose of humor, from puns to slapstick. I like to laugh, and I like writing stories that are fun for grown-ups and good for my kids, too.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

I don't remember. It was very spontaneous. I think I had intended to write a DragonEye, PI, story, but Vern isn't ready to tell me about his experiences with zombies. (Zombies gross dragons out in a big way.) So I was playing with the noir voice--that 40s/Sam Spade thing--when the zombie exterminator idea hit me. We were househunting in California, which might account for some of the environmental/political humor.

Of course, "My Big, Fat, Zombie Wedding" is inspired by the movie, "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding." Not much of a stretch there.

6. Tell us a bit about your other work.

Well, if people like my stories in The Zombie Cookbook, they will probably love my DragonEye, PI books and stories. Vern is a down-and-out dragon living on the wrong side of the Interdimensional Gap. Working off a geas by St. George, he's now serving God and His creatures by being a professional problem solver. He and his partner, the nun/mage Sister Grace, solve mysteries, assist the police, and save the world on an all-too-regular basis. Everything is told from Vern's POV, which is fun to write as well as read. The first novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is out from Swimming Kangaroo books, and the second, Live and Let Fly, comes out in 2010.

My science fiction is also fun, but not as humorous. My favorite universe right now involves a near-future when humankind has conquered the solar system. There's an order of nuns who specialize in space search and rescue operations. The Rescue Sisters have some wonderful, sometimes hair-raising adventures, like when they have to rescue an injured man from a ship full of poisonous snakes. (That story comes out April 2010 in Infinite Space, Infinite God.) I'm also working on their first novel.

7. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

For Vern and Sister Grace: Learn more about the stories and book by clicking on the cover art.

For the rest of my stuff,

8. Any tips for writers thinking about submitting to an anthology?

Anthologies are like sonnets--they have definite form and requirements, but within that, you can create the most amazing things. Know the limits, then make your story unique. Also, produce a professional product, no matter how small the press. Show your best, always!

Thanks, Karina. Come back Friday, October 9th, for interviews with Lisa Haselton, Linda Neiswender, and Cinsearae.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zombie Cookbook Review

Edited by Kim Richards
Damnation Books, LLC
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-037-8
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-036-1

Are you a fan of rotting flesh, drooping eyeballs, dismembered bodies, romance? Romance? Yes, The Zombie Cookbook has something for everyone whether your reading tastes lean toward the gruesome or the romantic. Kim Richards has put together an eclectic collection of zombie tales and recipes, beginning with “Wokking Dead” by Karina Fabian and ending with “My Big Fat Zombie Wedding” also by Ms. Fabian. Spattered in between these two very different tales are stories, recipes and poems by Becca Butcher, Carla Girtman, Cinsearae Santiago, Dawn Marshallsay, Kate Sender, Lin Neiswender, Lisa Haselton, and Scott Virtes.

The Amsterdam rock band, The Zombie Cookbook, begins the collection with an introduction, “A hard message to deliver,” which is guaranteed to set the tone of the book. Next up is Ms.Fabian’s tale, “Wokking Dead.” Ms. Fabian, true to her humorous form, writes a quirky tale with Neeta Lyffe (would you say “need a life”?) as a zombie exterminator. While there is certainly enough slicing, dicing and broiling of zombies in this story, Neeta’s work partner, Ted, manages to find Neeta attractive. Lisa Haselton has the next story in this collection, “Secret Ingredient.” While our heroine, Annie, a popular chef in the local community, appears to be resigned to having a zombie as her sous chef, revenge for the death of her parents at the hands of rogue zombies lies at the heart of this story. You need to read it to find out Annie’s “secret ingredient.” On the next page, Lisa adds a short ode to Clete, the spaghetti eating zombie of her tale, “Secret Ingredient.”

Becca Butler’s contribution to the collection is a yummy recipe for “Beer-Battered Zombie with Butternut Squash.” Yummy, that is, if you tolerate the odor of cooking zombie flesh.... Lin Neiswender follows with “The Right Recipe,” a tale of Paul Clemmons, Food Editor for Zombie Cookbookery Publications International. Paul receives several emails from readers both pleased and displeased by his department. But, what’s this? Nestled between the innocuous communications is a threat, “u eat zombies so u die...” You will need to read Lin’s tale to find out if Paul survives or becomes a recipe ingredient for a vengeful zombie. Another delightful recipe, “Quick and Easy Zombie Pastie,” is provided by Kate Sender. This dish includes puffer fish, cheese and wilted spinach as well as bone meal seasoning. Just what your zombie needs to stay healthy.

“Express Cuisine,” by Dawn Marshallsay, offers action and adventure as our heroine, Ruby, battles against a train full of rampaging zombies. Ruby manages to survive through cunning, daring, and a plastic serrated knife, but you must read the whole tale to see what waits for Ruby at home. Carla Gitman next adds her gruesome tale, “Brain Food,” the story of a zombie husband and wife who aren’t exactly good for each other. Scott Virtes, “Brain Salad for Dummies,” gives you a recipe and plan for exterminating unwanted zombies in your neighborhood. You’ll need this if you find you are amongst the last groups of surviving humans.

“A Zombie’s APB,” by multi-talented Cinsearae Santiago, is written from the zombies’ point of view. Just imagine what it would be like to be forced to eat contaminated human flesh! Really, isn’t that what humans are doing to themselves by consuming foods laced with preservatives, ingesting steroids, drinking carbonated beverages and submitting to breast implants, and hip replacements?
Keep in mind the next time you drink your soda that toxins and fake body parts are not palatable to your average zombie. (Cinsearae is also the talent behind the cover art for this anthology.)

The final tale, “My Big Fat Zombie Wedding,” by Karina Fabian, is a humorous romance where normals and paranormals freely interact and marry. Karina’s main character, Vida Hadanoff (think I’d had enough), is introduced to Mortimer Stahl, a zombie (yes “Mort,” as in death). Disgust soon turns to romance. Romance turns to wedding plans. But wait, Vida’s parents have a few hang-ups about their daughter marrying a zombie, not to mention Vida’s brother, Jason. Like all weddings, Vida’s has its problems, all of which will keep you laughing.

Interspersed with these delectable tales are eye-popping, finger-licking good illustrations provided by the talented George Silliman whose specialty is horror.

Pick a moonless night. Get out your flashlights and gather round the campfire or fire pit for some spine tingling, bone-chilling reading. This fun book will be available September 1, 2009. Look for more information at:

Be sure to stop by for interviews with editor Kim Richards and contributor Karina Fabian on Wednesday, October 7th. Then on Friday, October 9th, I'll be interviewing contributors Lisa Haselton, Cinsearae Santiago and Lin Neiswender.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview with author, Sandy Lender

INTERVIEW With author, Sandy Lender

Today, I have fantasy author, Sandy Lender, as my guest. Sandy recently released the second book of her "Choices Trilogy," Choices Meant for Kings. Be sure to leave a comment for Sandy so your name is entered into the drawing for a free copy of her book Choices Meant for Gods.

Here's a quick synopsis of the book:
Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

Sandy has agreed to answer some questions about her writing and her books.

1. Sandy, please tell us why you wanted to be a writer.

Hi, Penny. I have to admit that I don't have a real reason. It's just always been in me since I was a little girl writing stories for my great grandmother...

2. Would you describe your writing process.

I used to be able to describe my process, but it's become so disrupted the past few years that now it's completely random. I write like mad any chance I get!

3. What draws you to the fantasy genre?

My characters draw me to this genre. They show up with facets of their persona that could only exist in a fantasy I'm forced to write them there.

4. You have a passion for swords and daggers. Do you feel this helps you with your fantasy writing and why?

The draw to sharp pointy weapons definitely helps with my writing. I've enjoyed researching it.

5. What comes first for you when writing - your characters, plot or your fantasy world?

The characters always come first. Even when I recently thought I had a world and a plot happening first, I realized that there were a couple of characters hiding out in my brain whispering it all to me...the characters were there first...again.

6. How do you create your fantasy worlds?

It starts with imagination and I throw in research from classes I've taken in history, English language, mythology, that sort of thing. But it's mostly imagination.

7. I noticed in Choices Meant for Kings you use the technique of being in more than one character's POV within the same chapter. This is more typical of romance than fantasy. Why do you think this technique works for your stories?

I think this works for me because I enjoy British writers more than American writers (always have) and this is a more international device than American device. Switching POV (or "moving the camera" as my publisher likes to call it) is tricky for American audiences, but I think it works in my stories because I broadcast that we're jumping into someone else's mind. I write in third person omniscient so it's not breaking with style to suddenly move from one character's POV to another, but I still make it as clear as possible that "Hey, we were looking at this scene through Nigel's eyes and now we've stepped away from that bubble and we're looking at Nigel and Chariss there in the bubble through Henry's eyes." Or something to that effect.

8. Traditionally geasa are compared to curses. In your series, this doesn't seem to be the case for the geasa. How do you define geasa as you use it in the "Choices Trilogy?"

The word "geasa" comes from uses that suggest discipline in the different texts that I've borrowed it from. The power called "geasa" that I created for my novel is one that the "good guys" wield and they must practice discipline when wielding it.

9. How do you create the words for your world, such as "ofersey'n" and the Ungol language?

I've got a degree in English and LOVED my classes that dealt with the history of the English language and the good ol' Anglo-Saxons and Celts and Jutes and those nasty ol' Norsemen, etc. I also studied a bit of Spanish because I had to. So when I create words for the world or for the Ungol language, I borrow from Old English and sometimes from Spanish to either coin a new word or to morph something together or to just flat-out USE something from the OE dictionary.

10. Once you create your new language how do you keep track of it?

Notecards! He he. Seriously, I have a notebook with some very basic grammar and conjugation rules. I've got a recipe box full of notecards with words and such. The thing I want readers to know is they won't be expected to learn the Ungol language at any point in the Choices series. I introduce a few words in Choices Meant for Gods, and at least one in Choices Meant for Kings, but these are explained and used sparsely in a context that makes them very easy to assimilate. I've got a very short list of vocabulary words at my Web site on the Worlds page if folks are interested in getting to know some of the language, but, truly, it's not at all necessary to enjoy the novel.

11. Please explain your road to publication. For example, how many queries did you send out? Did you have an agent? Do you think an agent is necessary? How did you find ArcheBooks Publishing?

If you want to get signed with a large, NY publishing house, yes, an agent is necessary. If you want to do just as much work with marketing and promotion, yet get published with a smaller, independent publishing house where you'll probably have some input on cover design and probably have more grace period for sales, you probably don't need an agent. I do not have an agent. I found ArcheBooks Publishing by signing up for a pitch session with the publisher at a writer's conference a few years ago.

12. Writing a trilogy seems like a daunting task. Did you know the story would be a trilogy when it first came to you? Were you overwhelmed by the idea? When you sought publication, did you approach the editor with the idea of a trilogy?

I thought the Choices series was going to be a two-book story. Oops. It's not overwhelming, though. It's just a long story to tell and, to make it marketable and of a reasonable price, it had to be cut into thirds.

13. What would you like readers to take away from this series?

Girls rock. He he. Seriously? Well...girls do rock, and amid all the chaos and confusion we may run into in life, we also run into people who make the road worth traveling.

14. Where can people find out more about Sandy Lender and your work?

I have a rather new Web site that went up in June at But I also have a blog where I'm announcing a fabulous contest for new readers of my work at

15. Any tips for new writers interested in breaking into the fantasy genre?

Write like mad every chance you get. I also recommend sleep deprivation to get those really good fantasy hallucinations...and then write like mad!

Thank you Sandy for taking the time to answer these questions today. Good luck with your writing.

Remember to leave your comments!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review Choices Meant for Kings

Today, I'm reviewing Choices Meant for Kings. Be sure to leave a comment so your name will be in the drawing for a hard copy of Sandy's first book of her Choices Trilogy, Choices Meant for Gods.

Choices Meant for Kings
By: Sandy Lender
ArcheBooks Publishing, Incorporated

Choices Meant for Kings is the second in a fantasy trilogy written by Sandy Lender. I have to admit I have not read Choices Meant for Gods the first book in the series. I will also say right away, I fully intend to read it. I am a lover of fantasy books, and I've read numerous authors from Terry Brooks to Roger Zelanzny. I have not been disappointed with Ms. Lender's entrance into the world of fantasy.

In Choices Meant for Kings, young Amanda Chariss, with her guardian, the wizard Hrazon, and The Master Rothahn, the god she is bound to protect, is entrenched on the estate of her betrothed Nigel Taiman. Camped on the lawn outside the home is the army who follows her. What she doesn't know is that her husband to be lives with the curse of his birth mother, the evil goddess and sorceress, Julette - The Dragon. We quickly learn that Chariss is an extraordinary woman, as swift to use her dagger, sword, or whip against her enemies as she is to steal a kiss from Nigel when no one is looking.

Things in Onweald are not as they should be. The gods and goddesses walk among men and have lost their geasa. Outside the gates of Arcana, Julette masses her army ready to storm Amanda's new home and destroy all she loves. Will Chariss, Nigel and the Ofersey'n be victorious when the only magic still alive in Onweald is the dark magic associated with Julette?

Meanwhile, within her own home, Amanda is faced with enemies and wrong-doers intent on separating her from her beloved. A young girl, obsessed with Nigel, appears claiming Nigel is the father of her child. Traitors lurk within Amanda's army. Like it or not, The Ultimate One, proclaims Amanda Chariss as his Goddess of War. How will Amanda handle these trials and others?

Here is a fantasy novel peopled with rich characters whose shortcomings only make them more human. Be sure to get your copy of this page turner filled with dragons, gods, goddesses, sorcerers, puzzling prophesies, and wicked antagonists.While you're at it, be sure to read Choices Meant for Gods as well.

A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”

Remember to leave your comments to be entered in Sandy's book drawing.