Friday, April 30, 2010

Promo Day, May 15, 2010

Promo Day is coming up on May 15th. This is a great way to promote your work, network with other writers and learn more about the craft of writing. Check it out at

This free online event for people in the writing industry is packed full of opportunities to promote, network and learn. Jo Linsdell-Feliciani hasa great line up of free workshops taking place during the day too. Any author can have their book featured in the onsite bookstore this year for just €5,00 (a small price for getting your book out there in front of thousands in just one day).

The event is open to everyone. Just turn up on the day and join in the fun.

To stay up to date with news and announcements about PROMO DAY follow the official blog for the event at

If you have any questions about the event or would like to do a feature or interview to help promote it, please email Jo at

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Interview with author, Chastity Bush

Today, my guest is a new MuseItUp Publishing author, Chastity Busy. Chastity's book, A Taste of Terror, is scheduled for release as an eBook on December 1, 2010.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

My latest book, A Taste of Terror, is a paranormal romance with a twist of mystery, as I try to give all of my stories. It is full of love and romance and sass. I have high hopes for this particular story.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?

I love to write paranormal and so when the characters developed, I could not help but let the story lead me in that direction.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a stay at home mom. My kids are in school all day and that allows me to write during the day and take care of any business that needs taking care of before I have to go into mom mode at the end of the day.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

When my husband suggested it. I have always been an avid reader and when my husband asked me why I had not tried to write a story of my own, the seed was planted. That was two years ago, and I have been writing ever since.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

I hope that my writing will make people feel good. When I pick up a book it is to escape into a whole other world. That is what I want people to expect when they pick up one of my books. I hope that people see that I have worked hard and that they are happy with the outcome of all that hard work.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?

I like to write all genres. At the moment I have a contemporary, historical and paranormal and in December A Taste of Terror will be released. I have to admit that paranormal is my favorite genre to write. You can do anything with the characters and take the story to a new realm if you are not happy with regular old earth. It is so fun to get lost in the story and with a paranormal that is exactly what happens.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

Writers block. I find that if I am stressed, I cannot write my own name correctly much less add to a manuscript. The only thing that I have found that helps is stepping away from the story for a while. Read a book, take care of the house or just watch television. Anything other than trying to write.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Honestly, the only thing that I can think of that is close to a real life event is from my first book, Guarding Temptation. The heroine is terrified of everything from spiders to elevators. That is me to a T. I am afraid of just about everything. Other than that, I have tried to stay away from anything that has happened in real life. I think that it makes the story more interesting.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

I try to put a little bit of myself in each heroine of every story. Some are afraid of the same things as I, others are sassy as I have been told I can be and others are just terrific at being themselves no matter what other people think.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

I didn’t really have to do any research for this one. That is the best part of writing a paranormal. You can create or change anything. You don’t have to stick to the stereotypical vampire or werewolf. You can change them, make them be however you want.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

Writing violent scenes do not bother me as much as writing a sexual scene does. I think that I get more embarrassed than anything else. There are readers who are like, “Wow, that scene was hot! How did you come up with that.” And I can’t help but to blush. But when someone says, “That part where you had Cole rip the guys head off was awesome!” I feel pretty good.

12) What about your book makes it special?

I like to think that it is special because it is 100% original. I try to stay away from what anyone else has done. Who wants to read a book that is so much like a story that they have already read? And sad to say, that happens a lot.

13) What is your marketing plan?

I promote my bum off. I have a Facebook and MySpace where I promote to as many people as possible. I hold a monthly giveaway where I give away a copy of one of my books and a personalized tote bag filled with goodies and most of all, I work as hard as I can doing whatever I think will help sell books and help my publishing house grow including doing interviews, guest blog spots and sending off for reviews.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?

I am everywhere. You can find me on Facebook at, MySpace at and on my official website I also have author pages at, and on my publishers website

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

My first word of advice is to always research who you are submitting to. Sad to say but there are some publishers out there who are only interested in helping themselves by taking advantage of your hard work.
Second, don’t worry what others may think of your work. Don’t worry that it is too erotic or too violent. Take chances and have fun.

Chastity, thanks for being my guest today and sharing your writing journey.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with author Jeannie E. Roberts

Today, my guest is children's author and illustrator, Jeannie E. Roberts. Jeannie wrote the delightful illustrated book, Let's Make Faces!

1. Jeannie, please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I've been writing most of my life. I began writing short stories and poems in elementary school. I grew up in a household filled with books and poetry. My parents encouraged my brother, my sister and me to read. At an early age, I was made aware of the power and beauty of words. I find myself drawn to writing poetry more than anything else because of its aesthetic and evocative qualities. Creating poetic rhythm using timing set to accents and syllables is especially appealing to write, as in my children's poetry. But I also enjoy writing free verse, where the rhythm is often organized on looser units of cadence rather than a regular meter.

2. Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I'm a part-time children's writer and artist and a full-time business owner. I run an advertising, marketing, art, and design firm ( At JR Creative Studios, I spend my days writing television and radio scripts, commercial jingles, marketing plans, and producing other creative projects. I try to write my children's and adult poetry in the morning and at night before bedtime. On a good day, I write between two and three hours.

3. What influences your writing?

Many things influence my writing. I'm influenced by my son and the experiences we've shared together, by my childhood memories and life experiences, by observation, by other people's stories, and by nature.

4. Is Let’s Make Faces! your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?

Let's Make Faces! is my first published children's book. I'm a published poet and my work has appeared in Free Verse, Cross Country Skier, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets' Museletter and elsewhere, including the mixed-media show Vision and the Word.

5. Why did you choose to write a children's story?

There is nothing truer than writing through the eyes of a child. I enjoy the honesty and sweetness of children's stories. Plus when I write a story, I like to visualize the emotional connection which happens between a parent and a child when they read together. It's a bonding experience. Nothing can take the place of a good children's book. It instills happy and lasting memories. Even at age 53, I can still remember my mom reading Dr. Seuss books to me.

6. What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

The idea for my book, Let's Make Faces!, began in 1998. At the time, I photographed my son, Andrew, making silly facial expressions which inspired me to write a whimsical poem about the experience. This project lay dormant for a number of years, but was revived in 2007 when I began creating oil paintings of Andrew's funny faces for an art exhibit called, "Let's Face It."

In September of 2008, I created a mock-up children's book which included 12 illustrations (nine of my son, two of my husband and one of me) and the Let's Make Faces! poem broken out into book format. I showed this mock-up to friends, artists, writers and poets. I asked for as much feedback as possible and was given some good advice. First, I was encouraged to self-publish so I could maintain creative control. Second, I was advised to add more diversity within my book. In other words, to include both boys and girls and children of color versus just illustrations of my son and family members.

In March of 2009, the engine to self-publish began. From mid-March until approximately the end of June (around three months), I painted 30 paintings with each painting averaging between six and eight hours to complete. After all my paintings were done, I had them professionally photographed. In July, the book design and layout process began and was completed in September. In early October, I submitted my book for copyright, gave the electronic book files to the printer, and set up my book web site with PayPal account.

On October 21, 2009, I picked up 15 boxes of books which contained 1,030 copies of Let's Make Faces!. The actual book process took approximately seven months.

7. Why did you decide to create your own publishing company to publish this book?

There are a couple of reasons why I decided to create my own publishing company, Rhyme The Roost Books. First, I anticipate publishing more children's books, including an illustrated poetry collection. Second, I established my own publishing company so I could maintain creative control and be true to my vision as both a writer and an illustrator. Typically, the big publishers prefer to pair a writer with an illustrator they've selected from their own artistic pool.

8. What is your marketing strategy for Let’s Make Faces!

My marketing strategy is to create as much awareness as possible. It's an ongoing process, but I've had a good start with local publicity from both print and electronic media. Public relation events are also in my strategy, which include story times and book signings. Please see more detail below:

Let's Make Faces! was released on October 2lst in time for holiday gift-giving. Press releases were emailed to local media outlets to create awareness. These press releases generated newspaper articles and interviews on television news' shows and radio programs, including Wisconsin Public Radio. My book was also reviewed by published authors, including Jack Bushnell. Since November, I've participated in over 15 book events which have included library, school, and bookstore visits, story times, conferences, and book signings. Let's Make Faces! is carried by more than a dozen retail and book stores throughout west-central Wisconsin and in Minnesota. My book is also available to order on-line via PayPal at: Additionally, this web site has links to my page, my YouTube video and, and I've also included testimonials and a book audio.

9. What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

If you want to be published traditionally, I believe it's very beneficial to have an agent. Publishers rarely take unsolicited manuscripts. An agent knows the publishing industry and has the contacts and know how to sell a writer's work. Plus, agents have the expertise to advise writers on legal issues and to maneuver through the minutia of contracts and copyright.

10. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

To learn more about Let's Make Faces!, please visit my web site:

To learn more about my background, art, and poetry, please visit these web sites: (JR Creative Studios), (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and (Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets)

You can find me on and, or contact me via email at: or

11. Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

My advice to writers new to children's literature is to write from the heart, follow your inner voice and not follow trends. It's also helpful to read other children's books, not only to see what's being published, but also for inspiration. Sometimes other books can inspire fresh ideas and take you down paths you may not have otherwise taken. It's also important to write every day, even if it's only for a few minutes. Lastly, don't get discouraged. Being able to write and express yourself is a gift, so don't give up. There is a child and a parent out there just waiting to read your words and to be inspired by you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review of Let's Make Faces!

By: Jeannie E. Roberts
Illustrated by: Jeannie E. Roberts
Published by: Rhyme the Roost Books
ISBN-10: 0-615-31779-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-615-31779-3

This review is based on a review copy provided by Jeannie E. Roberts in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

LET’S MAKE FACES! is a delightful story in rhyme written and illustrated by award-winning poet and visual artist Jeannie E. Roberts. Her drawings have appeared in over 30 venues throughout the Midwest and Mexico City.

LET’S MAKE FACES! originated as a labor of love for Ms. Roberts’ son, Andrew. She photographed him making goofy faces. Later, she wrote a poem for children which begins: “Making faces is all about playing games that take time out for silly mugs that wrinkle, twist and turn, curve and crinkle!” As the author takes the reader through the story, she includes copies of oil paintings which she created from the photographs of Andrew, other children, her husband and herself.

This is a truly delightful book, professionally crafted, with wonderful full-color illustrations. Children reading along are encouraged to make the same faces illustrated on the pages, many of which will cause them to giggle.

The book has been recognized by educators and parents as a learning tool for children with autism, however, it is a book which will be enjoyed by all young children and their parents. I know I look forward to sharing this delightful story with my own grandchild.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet Author Jim Hartley

Jim Hartley is an author with the new publishing company, MuseItUp Publishing. His book is due to be released December 1, 2010. The title of his book is The Ghost of Grover's Ridge.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

Out of work paranormal investigator Ken Parker arrives in Groverton, and meets and falls in love with cute red-headed Jinny Talbot. He gradually realizes that there is magic in the town, good witches and evil warlocks, and sees a war looming between the two. He discovers that his girlfriend Jinny is a witch, and more surprisingly, that he himself is. As the battle nears, Ken joins with Jinny and the witch covens to fight the warlocks and the Ghost of Mordecai Grover.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?

I have no clue; it just sort of started writing itself, as many of my stories do. Sometimes I get an idea for a title, or just for a little piece of dialog or action, and expand on it, but by the time the story is finished I've forgotten where it started.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am retired, so I should be full time, except that my wife always has other things she wants me to do! My writing time is not organized at all, just when I can get around to it.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I submitted my first story at age 11 ... typed (poorly) single spaced, on both sides of one sheet of paper, and sent to one of the major markets ... rejected, of course. My first serious attempt was much much later, after computers arrived and were able to overcome my lousy typing skills. Back then all submissions were on paper and it cost too much so again I let it slide. But I keep coming back to it, don't I? And this time it seems to be working. Huzzah!

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

I just hope they will enjoy it; that’s what it's for.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?

Fantasy and SF, that's what I have been reading all my life, from the Oz books on up. Lately I have started reading Mysteries, and wondering if I could write one (or more) of those.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

Finding story ideas. Once I have an idea, I can go with it. But if I don't have one, I just wait a bit and one will, like a taxi, come by.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Not really for this book, but I have used real events from time to time. For example, there was a girl who rode a bicycle to high school (very un-cool at the time), and who broke a date with me at the last minute. Made a nice little time-travel piece.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

Not too much like me ... maybe a lot more like I wish I was!!
10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

Not much. In fact, not much for most of what I write. I'm not the kind of writer who will set a story in, say, Newark, NJ in 1947 and then research what store was on a particular street corner. I'll just invent the city of Oldark and put the stores where they are convenient. Like the Springfield of "The Simpsons," I tend to write fictional action in generic settings. I'd really rather write than research!

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

It doesn't bother me directly, but I worry a littlr about a reader who might say, "He wrote that trash? I'm not buying any more of his. books." So I generally keep it toned down.

12) What about your book makes it special?

I wrote it, isn't that special enough? :-)

13) What is your marketing plan?

Er, um, ah, can I skip this question? Seriously, this is an area I haven't done much with, and I'm still learning. But it takes a while.
14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?

I'm working on getting a good website set up with this kind of information on it.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

For that genre, or anything similar: when you get an idea, write it down so you don't forget it; use those ideas to actually write the stories; and when you get a story done, submit it somewhere! (And while you're waiting for a reply, write another story.)

Jim, it's been a pleasure learning more about you and your work. Thanks for being my guest.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Interview with author Michele Acker


Today my guest is author Michele Acker who wrote the fantasy novel, BETRAYAL, which I reviewed earlier. Michele has agreed to answer some questions on her writing.

1. Michelle, how long have you been writing, and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I've been writing for 11-12 years now. It seems like longer, LOL. I started out writing fan fiction for the show, Xena: Warrior Princess. I saw a particular episode, didn't like the way it ended and wrote a new ending. Then I wrote another fan fiction piece and was hooked. Of course they weren't much good, I didn't know anything about writing at the time, but I enjoyed myself very much. Later, I was reading the Word of Truth series by JV Jones and thought, I can do this, I can write this. And I did. She was my first real inspiration.

2. Are you a part-time or full-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I'm a part time writer. I wish I could be full time, but I'm not at that stage in my career yet where I can make enough writing to support myself. That's my goal though, to get to that place. I write during lunch every day at work and I write when I can in the evenings and on the weekends. Whenever I can squeeze in a few minutes.

3. What other types of writing do you do and what do you prefer to write?

I've written non-fiction, which I enjoy—I'm a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, and The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction, both from Dragon Moon Press--but my first love is fiction. I've written both mystery, science fiction, and fantasy, but I always go back to fantasy.

4. Do you belong to any writing groups and what benefits do you see from joining writing groups?

I see a lot of benefits from writing groups. I belonged to RWA for years and had a local chapter that I just loved. However, now that I've moved to Texas, my local chapter is so far away, I don't go as often as I should. Belong to a writing group like RWA, allows me to spend time around other writers, to network and learn writing techniques. I've learned so much in the years I belonged. I also have on online critique group and a group of other writers I try to meet with often.

5. Which comes first for you, the story or your characters?

I think both are equally important, but the idea for a story usually comes to me first, then once I have my idea, the characters start announcing themselves. Sometimes the characters come first. I plan to start working on a new Medieval Fantasy trilogy soon where the whole story was inspired by one character I thought up for a writing exercise.

6. What is your process for world-building?

If I'm writing fantasy, usually I think about the magic first. How does it work, how does magic affect the characters, etc. Then I do tons of reading and other research. For the upcoming Medieval Fantasy, I read a ton of books about life in medieval times. Some of it I try to keep as historically accurate as possible and some I'll twist to fit what I need. That's the nice thing about writing fantasy, you can make stuff up. I also do a lot of reading, and have done a lot of reading, in my chosen genre. I don't use anything from the books of course, but when you read in the genre you want to write in, you get a sense of how people interact with each other, of how magic tends to work, of the types of worlds you could build, etc.

7. What is your process for setting rules of magic for your worlds?

I think about it a lot. Some of it I work out before I start writing and some I work out as I write. The novel I'm currently working on now is a humorous fantasy that was inspired by a website I visited on building magical worlds. The website's author has pages of questions to help you think about how magic works in your world that you might not have thought of before. The questions are by Patricia Wrede, and can be found here on the SFWA website if anyone is interested:

8. Some of your scenes were quite brutal, including rape and torture. As a woman what are your thoughts as you create these types of scenes?

The idea of both of those things, rape and torture, especially torture, scare me to death. So of course I had to explore them in my fiction. I needed to figure out what about them frightened me and create a character would could both feel that fear and overcome it. Someone who wouldn't give up, someone who would become stronger after everything she'd been through.

9. How long does it take you to craft a book from the first idea to the submission stage?

Longer than I'd like, LOL! Betrayal and Sacrifice (which was written originally as one book), took me about 7-8 months to write, but it was my first novel and I didn't know what I was doing at the time. My first published novel, Portal to Murder, took almost 2 years, but I didn't have a deadline and I took my time to get it right. If I had a deadline, I'm sure I could finish a book a year.

10. How did you come to choose Damnation Books as your publisher?

I know the publisher, LOL. But honestly, she's just as hard with me as she is with everyone else who submits to her. She's in my online critique group so she knows my writing style and she asked me to submit something to her. I had this first novel that needed some work, so I sent it to her. She liked what she read and offered me a contract. Then I had to go through a brutal (and very fast) editing process to get the book at the stage where I was satisfied with it.

11. Do you have an agent and do you feel it is necessary to have one?

No, I don't currently have an agent, but it's my eventual goal to have one and to break into the New York publishing market, which I haven't done yet. I don't think you need an agent if all you want to do is e-publish, but if you want to go on to one of the major publishing houses, you definitely need an agent in my opinion. A lot of the big houses won't look at unagented submissions, so the only way you could submit to them without an agent is if you know them already or meet them at conference. And what if you couldn't afford to attend conferences? You'd never be able to submit anything. Having an agent gets you past that. And if you do plan to submit to a publisher who does take unagented submissions, having an agent gets you past the slushpile stage. Editors trust things that come from agents they respect because they know the agents won't represent anything they don't believe in.

12. What is your marketing plan for BETRAYAL and the other books in the series?

Getting reviews like this, doing interviews, word of mouth, posting them on my website, and anything else my publisher and I can come up with.

13. Will you give us a hint as to what readers can expect from the other Blood and Ashes books?

There's only one more book coming out, Sacrifice, which is the culmination of the story. Daryn rescues Sorea with some unexpected help and they set out on their journey to find the weapon to defeat the Sorceress. Along the way they must fight nightmarish monsters and cross invisible bridges while coming to terms with their feelings for each other. They return to rescue the children, but things don't go as planned. Valina works to turn Sorea's niece, Alana, against her and tries to force the girl to do help her work her evil spell, but in the end, Alana sacrifices herself to save everyone she loves.

14. Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

Unfortunately my website is currently down, but it should be back up again soon, You can find my novel, Portal to Murder, on the Virtual Tales website: Betrayal and Sacrifice can be found on the Damnation Books website: And all my books, both fiction and non-fiction, can be found at

15. Do you have any tips for new writers of fantasy?

Read, read, read. Do lots of research. And of course read, The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy

Michele, thanks for sharing your thoughts about writing. It's been a pleasure learning more about your and your work.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review Betrayal by Michele Acker

By: Michele Acker
Publisher: Damnation Books, LLC
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-057-6
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-056-9

WARNING: Book contains graphic violence, torture and rape scenes.

This review is based on a review copy provided by Damnation Books in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

BETRAYAL by Michele Acker is the first book of the Blood and Ashes series. Ms. Acker has crafted a story which is not for the faint of heart, yet she has interwoven the horror of war with the longings of love. Ms. Acker knows how to develop full-bodied characters and create a believable fantasy world.

Sorea is a young woman who has spent most of her adult life masquerading as a man, Gareth, well-known for his skills as a swordsman and mercenary. She travels with her long-time partner, Daryn. Unknown to both of them, they harbor deep-seated feelings of love for each other.

Ms. Acker draws the reader right into the story as the story opens to the ringing of steel and the stench of blood and dying. She takes the reader on a non-stop journey filled with brutality, but tempered by moments of tenderness, caring, and love.

Sorea and Daryn are drawn into a war with an evil sorceress, Valina, who uses children as sacrifices to strengthen her dark powers. Valina harbors who own secret as to what made her become the hard-hearted woman who rules the land with a fist of terror. Unknowingly, Sorea comes upon Valina in the woods. Thinking Valina is only a mother mourning the death of her child, Sorea drops her guard, only to find herself at the mercy of Valina. She manages to get away and back to Daryn, but Valina is determined to find and destroy Sorea for what she may have learned in the forest.

Using fear as a weapon, Valina destroys Sorea’s home village, kills Sorea’s sister and brother-in-law and takes Sorea’s nieces captive. Sorea embarks on a quest to rescue her nieces. She and Daryn learn from an ancient seer the one thing which will destroy Valina. Unfortunately, they are thwarted in their attempts by Valina’s soldiers, who are not without their own skills.

Do Sorea and Daryn find the courage to tell each other what they feel? Are they able to obtain the item which can kill Valina? Are there others willing to fight against Valina, or are Sorea and Daryn on their own in this battle to the death? Read BETRAYAL for answers to these questions and more.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meet the MuseItUp Authors, Editors and Cover Artist

For a special treat, Lea Schizas, publisher for MuseItUp Publishing is hosting a Meet the Publisher, Editors, Authors and Cover Artist of MuseItUp and MuseItHOT! Publishing on Monday, May 3, 2010, at 9 P.M. EST, in the general chatroom of MuseItUp. Please see guidelines listed below and plan on stopping by.

They're new and eager to meet and let everyone know who they are, what books they have coming out, and have you meet some of the authors, editors and cover artist.
To register: send an email to museitupeditor AT yahoo DOT ca in the body of the email include your name and email address on the subject heading place Muse Publishing.

The authors will be on hand to take questions and discuss their upcoming books, and the publisher will be there to answer any questions you may have about submissions and what genres we accept. Our editors will be on hand to answer any worry you may have about changing a writer's voice during the editing stage, and talk about their two-step process before a book goes into the final stage.

For those attending they'll draw names for our upcoming December e-books as door prizes. Your names will be kept on file and as soon as the e-book is released they'll send you your prize.

E-books to be won:
A Taste of Terror by Chastity Bush (Paranormal Romance)
Fallon O'Reilly and the Ice Queen's Lair by Debra K. Dunlap (YA Fantasy)
The Fireborn Chronicles: Resonances by Mary Andrews (Sci-Fi)
For the Love of Rei by Tigra-Luna LeMar (IR Hot & Sizzling Romance-Adult Content)
Harvest Moon by Krista D. Ball (Paranormal Fantasy)
Santa is a Lady by LJ Holmes (Romance - Christmas theme)
The Ghost of Grover's Ridge by James Hartley (Urban Fantasy)

So seven lucky winners on May 3rd will have December gifts coming their way.
The chat room link is found at .

Once in the chat room, if you haven't already done so, you need to REGISTER not LOG IN first to place a username and password. Once you get a confirmation email then you can log in and join them in the General chat room.

TIP: Register before May 3 and try out the chat room. Please read the GUIDELINES of the chat room.

Hope to see you on May 3, 2010.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview with author, Kristin Johnson

Today, my guest is children’s author/story editor, Kristin Johnson. Kristin has agreed to talk about her writing process.

1. Kristin how long have you been writing, and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have been writing since I graduated grammar school last week. I think I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in the womb. All joking aside, I’ve been writing for a long time.

2. Are you a full-time or part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a full-time writer, writing consultant and ghostwriter. Wearing so many hats and juggling several balls, I have an interesting schedule. I never know what the next day or even the next hour is going to bring. I live in Hawaii, so scheduling and taking client calls is definitely a feat given the time differences.

In terms of organization, I pretty much control my own time but I generally try to write for six to eight hours a day, or until I’ve hit my client and personal writing goals I’ve listed for that day. Projects with definitive client deadlines take priority, of course, and I have been known to work all night even while on vacation, then sleep through a car trip.

3. I understand this is your first children’s book. What other type of writing do you do, and why did you decide to branch out into children’s literature?

I do every kind of writing. I am a profession ghostwriter/writing consultant (Ordinary Miracles: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, written for/with the late Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D.), a poet, a screenwriter, a novelist (Butterfly Wings: A Love Story), a cookbook writer (Christmas Cookies Are For Giving), blogger, Web writer, playwright, short story writer, I have done it all.

4. Which type of writing do you prefer and why?

I am most drawn to fiction and screenplays, although I find satisfaction in creative nonfiction as well. I have a marvelous idea for a couple of anti-bullying books for children that I’m planning. One reason I love screenplays is that I love movies and can get easily wrapped up in the story and characters, imagining what else might have happened to them. I like writing visually, although getting the dramatic tension right in a screenplay is always a challenge, I also enjoy fiction because you can get inside a character’s head and invent impossible yet believable stories and scenarios, and I love language and metaphors. Writing dialogue is challenging, but I enjoy that too, and dialogue is more important than people might think in creative nonfiction.

5. How did you first come into contact with Cartoongems?

A mutual friend introduced me to James Rumpf II, who inherited the classic Cartoongems characters created by Joseph Oriolo Sr. The characters of Tad and Professor BEEtoven as well as other Cartoongems stars had previously appeared in a 1983 cartoon, “Friends Make the World Go Round”. THE PACIFIC OCEAN is the latest incarnation of these characters. We plan a 12-book series. I am thrilled to work with James, Rich Crankshaw and Kevin O’Flaherty as well as the other wonderful people I have met thanks to Cartoongems.

We had created several different cartoon trailers trying to breathe new life into the existing characters, and we planned to create a new hip cartoon series. However, after much perspiration, we got our inspiration, and it brought me back to my literary roots. A book is easier to produce than trying to get a series launched.

6. Did Cartoongems approach you to write the story, or did you have the story already written? Which came first, story or pictures?

James owns the rights to several scripts that Oriolo Educational Publications had created, but which need adapting to book form. That was our task with THE PACIFIC OCEAN. James found Kevin O’Flaherty through a local art college in Dallas, and Kevin created the cute illustrations of Barnacle Bill, Professor BEEtoven and Tad the Frog. I think the illustrations are the star.

Oriolo’s other scripts need a contemporary update and adaptation to book form. Our second book will be DUBIOS’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY, a light-hearted look into the history of chocolate. A third book will talk about Wall Street and finance, an important topic for children right now.

7. What is your marketing plan for The Pacific Ocean?

We are definitely targeting the children’s and children’s educational niche. We’ll be advertising/promoting/cross-promoting on those types of Web sites. We’ll be doing a blog tour and you are the first stop on our tour. Other aspects of our plan:

--getting the print version from CreateSpace into libraries
--offering “teasers” of the book on the Web site
--promoting the audio version
--doing the podcast circuit (I am available for interviews!)

8. Tell me a little about the plan to offer this as a “talking ebook.”

Voice actor/podcaster Rich Crankshaw owns Floatenzboat Studios,, and he produced the talking ebook, which people can preview on the Web site as a sound file and video file. Rich did a magnificent job of voicing all the characters, Barnacle Bill, Tad the Frog and Professor BEEtoven, as well as adding the music and sound effects. Rich’s expertise in creating believable characters and in professional audio production make the ebook a high quality product. We expect to launch it by midsummer.

9. Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Visit me on
I also blog at

10. Do you have any tips for writers wanting to break into children’s literature?

Find characters that you love. Characters are wonderful for educational books because they make learning interesting and fun. Make the characters unusual—kids are open to animal characters beyond cute and cuddly (my favorite example of this is Charlotte’s Web). In our next book, we feature a koala brother and sister who are cute but have their own personality quirks. Professor BEEtoven is certainly not like any other bee you’ve read about, and Tad the Frog represents the kids in our audience!

When I think about children’s books, I’m reminded of the classic “Schoolhouse Rock” and the talking Bill of “I’m Just a Bill”. Look it up on YouTube!

Another idea is, if you want to be topical, say writing about bullying—which I would like to tackle in our books—make it powerful rather than preachy. I say bullying because it’s rampant in the news.

We’re writing about money, greed, saving, spending and stocks as well. Traditionally people think that’s not a subject kids are interested in, but I disagree—I think considering the economy, this is the perfect time to teach kids about money, in an engaging way.

Kristin, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me today.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Review The Pacific Ocean

By: and Oriolo Educational Publications
Adapted/Edited by: Kristin Johnson
Published by: James A Rumpf II
Illustrated by Kevin O’Flaherty

This review is based on a review copy provided by Kristin Johnson in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

According to The Pacfic Ocean adapter/editor Kristin Johnson, “The book is available on and as a PDF on our Web site, and we will soon have a talking e-book version. This is a line of books that will feature recurring characters, especially the star, Professor BEEtoven.”

The Pacific Ocean is a clever, educational tale with cartoon characters. Professor BEEtoven, is an “educated good-natured bee who knows everything;” Tad the Frog, a “fun-loving ambitious learner;” and Barnacle Bill, a “wise, old, seasoned sea captain” with a hearing problem.

Barnacle Bill explains to Professor BEEtoven about the Pacific Ocean’s size, its boundaries and facts about both its history and its life. Because Barnacle Bill has trouble hearing, the story mixes humor with fact, thus keeping young readers interested and turning the pages. Readers learn the Pacific Ocean covers 1/3 of the earth’s surface, and it stretches 9,000 miles east to west. They also learn at its deepest, the Pacific Ocean is more than 36,198 feet deep.

Barnacle Bill shares some names of fish which inhabit the Pacific waters as well as names of major ports. He also talks about the explorers who sailed this great expanse of ocean.

The cartoon characters which accompany the story were created by Joe Oriolo, a world famous animator and writer. He began his career in 1933 with Walt Disney Studios. Later he worked for Max Fliesher Studios and Paramount. Joseph Oriolo spent many of those early years animating Betty Boop, Popeye, Little LuLu and Superman. He’s best known for Casper the Friendly Ghost. Illustrator, Kevin O’Flaherty does a wonderful job of bringing these delightful characters to the page.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Interview with author, Naomi Clark

Today, my guest is Naomi Clark, author of Afterlife. Naomi has agreed to talk about her writing with me.

1. Naomi, how long have you been writing, and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned how to write, so I suppose there was never a conscious decision to be a writer – I just always was one. I don’t think I realized I wanted to make a living out of it until I was in my teens. I read Tamora Pierce’s Immortal Quartet, and fell in love with it. Those books took me from simply enjoying writing to wanting to be a published writer.

2. Are you a full-time or part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

Part-time, although hopefully full-time one day! I do most of my writing in the evenings and weekends, but if I have a tight deadline then I take my laptop to work and write through my lunch breaks. Basically every second where I’m not sleeping, eating, or at my day job, I’m probably writing!

3. What draws you to urban fantasy and the paranormal?

I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal – ghosts, the occult, magic, etc. I didn’t discover urban fantasy until my late teens though; before that I read mostly high fantasy. I’m a big fan of anything with dragons in! But then one day I picked up Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton in a used bookshop, and I was hooked. I loved the idea of all these fantasy creatures in our mundane world, and I went out and hunted down every urban fantasy novel I could find.

4. Who are your favorite paranormal authors?

I adore Caitlin Kittredge, Stacia Kane, and Rachel Vincent. I’m also a big fan of Richelle Mead, Jackie Kessler and Jennifer Armintrout. She writes amazing vampires!

5. Do you write in other genres? Which do you prefer and why?

I’ve tried my hand at other genres, but I always come back to the paranormal. I’m experimenting with paranormal romance, and I’d love to write a good old noir crime novel like James Ellroy’s Black Dahlia.

6. Afterlife is written in the first person. Do you always write in the first person, and how did you choose this style?

Not always: I tend to switch between first and third. My early work was all third person, but as I started to read more urban fantasy, I tried more first person since that seemed more common in the genre. I’m comfortable with either style now, but it did take me a while to really settle in with first person – I was always worried the narrator would just sound like me!

7. What type of research did you do for Afterlife?

I spent a lot of time researching European folklore – particularly for the lich lords and mylings. A lot of their characteristics are rooted in old tales from countries like Romania and Scandinavia. I also looked at cults and movements like the Hellfire Club to help make Alex’s book sound plausible! It was lots of fun, and gave me plenty of ideas for the sequel.

8. What is your process for world building?

I’m a bit of a pantser – I usually have a few key ideas in my head, but I make a lot of it up as I go along. Admittedly that makes it harder to keep track of things, so I make lots of notes as I write too, so I can double-check myself later.

9. What is your process for creating your characters and keeping track of them?

Characters tend to pop into my head fully-formed, which is very convenient. If I’m writing a series I make up a character bible as I go along – details like date of birth, eye colour, etc, so I don’t get anything wrong in subsequent books.

10. What are your marketing plans for Afterlife?

When Afterlife was initially released I had a series of guest blogs from other writers, and gave away a big bag of swag when that was finished. That was loads of fun, and let me meet a lot of new people. I’ve been lucky enough to have some lovely reviews, too, which always helps! The plan from here is to keep the attention going via my website, reviews, and so on – at least until the sequel is out!

11. How did you find Damnation Books, and how long did it take from the time you submitted until your book was published?

I found Damnation Books via a recommendation really. One of their other authors announced she’d signed a contract with them on her Livejournal, so I checked out the site. I was impressed with what I saw, so I contact this author to ask her how her experience with them was going. She was absolutely full of praise, and that convinced me to submit. I submitted Afterlife in August 2009, I think, and had it accepted in September. The release date was set for December, so it all happened very quickly!

12. Do you have an agent, and what are your thoughts about having or not having one?

I do! I signed with a new agent last winter, having left my previous one at the start of 2009. Obviously I really believe having a good literary agent on your side is a great boost for a writer – they have contacts and knowledge you might not, for one thing. It can open a lot of doors. That said, I know plenty of writers who are enjoying great success without agents, so people shouldn’t be afraid to strike out on their own either.

13. Where can readers learn more about Naomi Clark?

I’m all over the place! My website is and I’m also on Livejournal at and Twitter at

14. Do you have any tips for writers wanting to break into urban fantasy and the paranormal genre?

Write what you love. If you don’t love your story, why would someone else? And don’t worry if it looks bad or you get rejected – you have to keep going. If you want it badly enough, put the time and effort in, and it’ll pay off. Read around your genre – it’ll help you learn. And read outside your genre too! It’s important to read voraciously whatever you’re planning to write.

Naomi, thank you for being my guest today. It's been a pleasure working with you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Review Afterlife

By: Naomi Clark
Published by Damnation Books, LLC
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-0053-8
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-052-1

This review is based on a review copy provided by Damnation Books in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

I'm a big fan of paranormal urban fantasy. I am particularly fond of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books and Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan books. I have found in Naomi Clark's book, Afterlife, a new author to follow. I was hooked from the first page and found myself wanting to ignore my other responsibilities so I could keep reading. Written in the first person, Ms. Clark quickly draws you into her tale and keeps you reading page after page. If you enjoy urban fantasy, you're going love Afterlife.

Yasmin Stoker is a wraith. She's lived for over 600 years and has never found another creature like her. She lives by keeping under the radar, drifting from place to place, and I do mean drifting. She exists in the normal world as a human, but can turn to mist and does to survive. Yasmin Stoker eats souls. Not just any souls, but she eats the souls of Revenants, who are newly created, ravenous vampires. Yasmin hates Vampires with a passion.

Unfortunately, Yasmin's world is thrown into chaos when she sees a young girl snatching healthy human males from the human world into the Pale World. Yasmin is ordered by her Lich Lord, a terrifying immortal, to stop a human PI who has arrived in town to find out what happened to a missing girl. Yasmin soon realizes her girl is the one Ethan Banning is seeking.

When she meets with Ethan in an attempt to get him to move on, she finds herself siding with him in an effort to find out why the young girl is killing mortal males. Are the Lich Lords involved? They seem to be, but Yasmin can't figure out how. Meanwhile, Yasmin is trying to have a normal relationship with Alex, a likeable and good looking teacher, who happens to be writing a book about a strange cult who seeks immortality. Then again, what's normal when her best friend, Emma, is half-human and half-succubus?

Yasmin struggles to keep Ethan safe and the knowledge of the Pale World away from him while also attempting to keep Emma from killing, Seb, a human and the love of Emma's life. Durante, an Immortal Vampire enters the picture and complicates matters. Yasmin has a strange attraction to him, while at the same time detests him and what he is.

Follow Yasmin as she tracks the clues through both the human world of Shoregrave, and the Pale World where dwell ghosts and ghouls and other more dangerous creatures. Will she learn what the Lich Lords are up to? Will she find happiness with Alex? Can Emma overcome her heritage and live as a human? Will Ethan learn about the Pale World and find out Yasmin isn't human? Read Afterlife to learn the answers to these questions and more. I wasn't disappointed, and I don't think you will be either.

Monday, April 5, 2010

MuseItUp Publishing

A short time ago, multi-talented author, editor, and publisher, Lea Schizas, announced the opening of her new publishing house, MuseItUp Publishing,

Lea's goal is to help writers succeed whether through her newsletter, Apollo's Lyre,, her writer's forum, The MuseItUp Club,, her annual free writers' conference, MuseItUp Online Writing Conference,, or her latest adventure, MuseItUp Publishing,

MuseItUp Publishing is a small and upcoming royalty paying independent Canadian e-publisher, open to submissions from both published and unpublished authors and to the following genres:

* Romance - everything from: romantic comedy, contemporary romance, fantasy romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, western romance
* Paranormal - Fantasy - they love vampires, ghosts, witches, werewolves and shape shifters...and dragons
* Mystery - Suspense -Thriller - captivate us with the pacing of your novel. Hint: they love cozy mysteries
* Young Adult - they're big fans of the Potter & Twilight series but seeking a unique voice for this target group
* Horror & Dark Fiction - scare the living daylights out of us with your settings, dialogue, and characters - not with blood and gore and missing human parts. Use the power of your writer's voice to draw images that will leave readers sitting at the edge of their seats.
* Sci-Fi
* Erotica - only accepted at our MuseItHOT! website. This genre will be hosted on its own website, apart from the above genres.

They are seeking quality work, not first drafts, ranging from 3,000 words minimum to novel length. Please see full guidelines on the blog, They are currently NOT seeking: short story collections or anthologies, poetry, or nonfiction.

All of their submissions are electronically based. They do not accept snail mail submissions.


* any work depicting forced rape
* abuse of children or any sexual tone with minors under the age of eighteen
* bestiality
* partially or incomplete and unedited manuscripts

Lea is joined in this effort by a dedicated group of content editors, copy editors, and artists. Each person on the team has a solid background in the writing field.

If you have a finished manuscript in any of the above genres, please stop by and read the submission guidelines. You just might find yourself a published author.