Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview with author Ginger Simpson

Today, my guest is multi-published author, Ginger Simpson.  Ginger will have her first young adult novel, Shortcomings, published by MuseItUp Publishing. There is a release date of March, 2011.  She is also under contract for two romance stories as well.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
My upcoming release from Muse It Up Publishing is my first attempt at a young adult novel.  I’m  very pleased at how it turned out, but I had no idea how hard it would be to put myself into a young girl’s mind…especially one with a disability. Cindy Johnson is born with one leg shorter than other and allows her disability to define who she is and what she’s capable of.  While typing about how she grew weary of rude stares and hurtful comments, I equated my insecurity with my weight to her problem, and I was able to see the world through her eyes.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Most of my work is character-driven.   My head has a revolving door through which they pass, and all have a story to tell.  I’m simply the means to an end.  It gets pretty noisy in there sometimes.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I consider myself a full-time writer since I retired a few years back.  Writing includes so many tasks: promoting, marketing, blogging, chatting, answering emails…it’s very hard to organize a time when I devote myself purely to a work-in-progress.  Like I state above, I wait until a character grabs my attention and begins the story telling.  I listen and type, then when I’m finished, I go back and add in the elements that make the story a novel.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I never expected to become a published author.  I’ve always loved writing and got good grades on essays in school.  I would say that my love of western historical novels gets credit for pushing me to see if I could write one myself.  I’m very fortunate that Lorraine Spencer from Wing ePress decided my story, Prairie Peace, was worth the time and effort.

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

First of all, there is no better feeling than when the reader GETS what you’re trying to portray in your novel. As far as what I hope each person takes away from my work, satisfaction is my answer.  I’d like to picture the reader closing the cover and releasing a satisfied sigh.  Who could ask for more?

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Western historical is my favorite genre, and the love for the old west was deeply seeded by the myriad of old westerns I was forced to watch on television.  I grew up with Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Rifleman, and of course, any movie starring John Wayne always took priority.  I’ve dabbled in other genres but I always keep coming back to the old west.  Laura Ingalls Wilder and her wonderful Little House series got me hooked on reading historical novels, and I love when someone compares my writing to hers.  It’s happened.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
For me, the toughest part has been finding a good fit with a publisher.  There are so many houses, and not all are run by people who care about their authors.  I’ve had three rotten experiences, and I’ve finally learned to research my options before I consider querying.  I recommend that to all new authors.  Ask tons of questions, especially from authors already contracted there.  If there’s a problem, you’ll find about it.  Google the publisher’s name; the Internet never erases anything.  I recently signed with Muse It Up Publishing, and I can’t say enough good things about the owner, staff and authors there.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
I wasn’t born with a disability, but I’ve always battled my weight.  That’s how I connected with Cindy in Shortcomings.  I think we always have a little of ourselves in our books.  In high school, I couldn’t find my niche for a while, and I recall how lonely and different I felt.  Yep…some of my real life is included in the story.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Cindy is only like the Ginger who went to High School.  We share no similarity at this point.  My heroine hasn’t yet discovered her worth while I’ve grown comfortable with who I am.  I like myself.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Compared to historical novels, this book was a cinch to write.  I didn’t really have to research much more than the educational requirements or certification required to teach at a school for the blind.  In historical novels, you have to pepper the story with facts, and they best be right or you lose credibility as an historical author.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Since I don’t enjoy reading them, I avoid both.  I’ve always run away from conflict, so I have no idea about violence, and I’m a “closed door” person when it comes to sex scenes.  I think my “prudishness” was caused by all of my grandmother’s harpings about nasty little boys and them wanting to get into my panties.  I didn’t know what they’d do once they got there, but the whole idea never appealed to me. 

12) What about your book makes it special?
Boy, that’s tough.  I don’t consider myself to be better than all the other authors vying for the same notoriety, so the best I can hope for is that the young adult readers enjoy Shortcomings and tell their friends.  I think the emotions and reactions in the story are realistic and I’m hoping the ending will bring that satisfied sigh I talked about earlier.

13) What is your marketing plan?
With Muse It Up Publishing, I expect to be very proactive in marketing.  Lea Schizas, the owner, is brainstorming with the authors about what, when and how to get yourself recognized and your work purchased.  I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I’m open to any new ideas, and I’m happy to share what I’ve tried…what worked and what didn’t.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I maintain a website and a blog.  Both places showcase my books, although my website features the video trailers and excerpts.  You can find me at or at  Come August, I’ve hosting a blog-a-thon, where fellow authors post on “Dishin’ It Out.”  I hope you’ll join me in welcoming them and reading what they share.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
I have learned so much over the years, it would take hours for me to share.  The most important lesson I learned at the beginning:  There is a vast difference between a story and a novel.  A story is telling, and a novel is showing everything to the reader.  Sharing the smells, feeling the breeze, crying the tears.  You must draw the reader in and put them in the character’s shoes.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Penny.  I was honored to be asked, and I look forward to learning more about my new “muse sister.”

Ginger, thank you for being my guest today.  I also look forward to learning about you and reading more of your work.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Interview with author Liz Coldwell

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Liz Coldwell.  Liz's Christmas-themed romance, Be Good to Your Elf, will be released this December.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Be Good To Your Elf is a fun, heartwarming short story about a girl who meets the man of her dreams while working in Santa’s Grotto at her local shopping mall.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I originally came up with it last Christmas, when it looked like another publisher might need some holiday-themed stories at the last moment. That didn’t happen, but when MuseItHOT! Announced they were looking for Christmas stories, I dusted it off and worked on the story. I think I’d been watching a film that had a scene set in Santa’s Grotto, and I just liked the idea of someone finding true love while dressed in a really silly costume.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Full-time, though I don’t write solidly for eight hours a day. I doubt anybody actually does that, particularly now writers have to do so much to promote their books as well. But I write something every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
It was my second career choice. My first, when I was very small, was archaeology, until I realised that meant digging up dead people. But my mum says I was always telling people I wanted to be a reporter. And I wrote my first novel when I was ten. It’s upstairs in a drawer at my parents’ house, though I’ve no idea what people would think if I showed it to them now.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
As most of my writing is in the erotica/erotic romance genre, I hope it turns them on, otherwise I’m not doing my job properly. But I also hope they enjoy it as a story apart from the erotic elements, and warm to the characters.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Mostly erotica, though the first novel I ever had published was in the paranormal genre, and a number of my erotic stories have some paranormal or speculative element, As for reading, I enjoy most genres, though Westerns don’t really do it for me, which is probably why, though it’s really popular, I’ve never written any cowboy-themed romance.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
You seem to work very hard to earn very little! But I look at writing as playing the long game – you have to gradually build a readership, and the good thing about books, e-books especially, is that they stay in print for a while, so readers have the opportunity to go back and track down your older work.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
There’s a scene where Maddie and Tyler, the two main characters, leave a carol service to discover the snow has started to fall while they’re in church. That actually happened to me when I was at university (though, sadly, I wasn’t in the company of a hot man at the time!) and it was such a magical moment it seemed appropriate to include it.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
She’s about twenty-five years younger, and has that Liv Tyler elf-like beauty, which is absolutely nothing like me! But she’s resourceful and practical, which I’d say are a couple of my personality traits.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
All I did was check that someone could get the job Maddie did as easily as she did. With contemporary stories, much of the detail comes from your own experiences or observations.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
There isn’t much violence in my work, but there’s plenty of sex. If I had a problem with it, I wouldn’t write it, as you can always tell when writers are uncomfortable with what they’re describing. I worked for Forum magazine in the UK for twenty years, so there’s very little about sex and relationships that surprises me.

12) What about your book makes it special?
Christmas magic!

13) What is your marketing plan?
I’ll mention the book on my own blog and the places I’m familiar with that allow promo. I’ve already featured the cover, so readers know the story is on its way. I have the feeling the whole Muse enterprise is going to get plenty of exposure, as Lea seems very focused on bringing the imprint to people’s attention.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My blog, at

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Writing good erotic romance isn’t just about describing a sexual encounter (or series of them). You have to create characters people will care about, and not sideline the plot in favour of the sex. And, as I’d say to any writer in any genre, if you’re aiming your work at a particular publisher, follow their guidelines in terms of length, presentation of manuscript etc. They’re there for a reason, and the more professionally you can present yourself and your work, the more likely you are to be taken seriously.

Thanks, Liz, for joining me today and sharing your thoughts and tips for other writers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Versatile Blog Award

I was surprised the other day when I received notice that Vampirique Dezire ( had nominated my blog for the Versatile Blog Award.  Surprised because I hadn't realized Vampirique was following me.  She found me through the Networked Blogs application on Facebook.  Just goes to prove that Networked Blogs has a purpose.  Now Vampirique and I not only follow each other's blogs, but have become Facebook friends.  She, like me is a grandmother and a writer, but we live thousands of miles apart.  She lives down under and I live in the U.S.  Thank you Vampirique for the honor.  I hope I live up to it.

In addition, multi-talented Jo Linsdell-Feliciani has also nominated my blog (  I've worked with Jo a number of times; I've reviewed her book, Italian for Tourists, and helped out on her annual Promo Day workshops.  Thanks, Jo.

Part of the fun of the Versatile Blog Award is thanking the person who presented it to you.  Then, you must share seven things about yourself, give the award to 15 other bloggers you admire, and then drop by and visit those you've nominated.

Seven things about myself -

1. I have been writing most of my life and doing so professionally since 1993.
2. I live with my husband of over 30 years on six acres with our two dogs and four cats.
3. We have two married children and one adorable granddaughter.
4. I am an editor for three different small publishing houses.
5. I was born on the East Coast, but I've lived on the West Coast since 1977.
6. I've owned three motorcycles in my lifetime, but no longer have one.
7. In addition to published articles and short stories, I have a middle-grade novel, a young adult chapbook, and a contract for a picture book.

Now for fifteen blogs I follow and admire:
1. MuseItUp Publishing, - this is the home blog for one of the publishing houses I work with.  There are author interviews, writing tips, and information about upcoming books.
2. Barbara's Meanderings - - this is the home for Barbara Ehrentreu.  She was one of my first writing "friends," and always offers something new and exciting on her blog.
3. ChrisChat - - Chris is also an inspiration to me and has been a great support in my writing.
4. The Writing Mama - - home to Virginia S. Grenier an inspiration to a lot of writers.  She's an author, editor, and creator of Stories for Children Magazine.
5. Kristine Kathryn Rusch - - Here's where prolific author, Kristine Kathryn Rusch offers advice and news about her own writing.
6. Ink In My Coffee - - Devon Ellington shares information about the writing life and offers tips to writers.
7. C. Hope Clark - - Hope gives snippets into her own writing life and helps other writers with useful information.
8. The Frugal Editor - - Carolyn Howard Johnson offers great tips for writers.
9. Susanne Drazic - - Susanne is a wife, mother, writer and supporter of other writers.  She reviews books on her blog among other things.
10 - Joylene Butler - - Joylene is a published author who offers tidbits on her blog to help other writers make the grade.
11. Romance in the Back Seat - - Terry Kate has consistently offered good information to romance writers including reviews of books and was instrumental in putting on an online conference to connect writers, bloggers, publishers, and agents.
12. Pat Bertram's blog - - Pat is also an author who offers posts on all aspects of the literary life from inspiration to editing, from rejection to reward.
13 Geri Ahearn's Book Reviews - - Geri supports writers in a big way by offering reviews here on her blog.
14. Lori Calabrese - - Lori concentrates on children's writing and offers reviews and tips for children's authors.
15. Katie Hines - - Katie supports other writers with reviews and interviews on her blog.

Please take a few minutes to visit these amazing bloggers.  Thanks again, Vampirique!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with author Joe Trent

Today, my guest is Joe Trent, author of the upcoming MuseItUp Publishing book, The King of Silk.  Joe has agreed to answer some questions about his book and his writing life.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

A twenty-first century finance hot-shot, who's chosen career over love, is yanked back to fifteenth-century Italy. He rebuilds his life there, starting in humble circumstances, and follows what he knows--business. As he faces challenges, alien as they are familiar, he is forced again to make hard choices. And before it's over, he will have to confront his own demons.

Michael reaches for the light switch and chides himself, again. There’s no electricity in the 15th century. But there could be.

A midnight attack on a Manhattan street transports rising corporate finance star, Michael Patriate, to the backwoods of Renaissance Italy. Fearing the brand "witch," he conceals his identity and his understanding of 21st century business and technology. But he can’t check his ambition, the drive which cost him love in the past and threatens to do it again.

He goes from laborer to successful provincial merchant, even moves down the coast to military and trade powerhouse Venice. And the knowledge in his head keeps nagging him.

When he takes shortcuts by introducing new concepts into the silk industry, he hits opposition from powerful elements of a culture which ruthlessly guards the status quo. And when he faces the ultimate adversary, he just may see himself.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wondered what I would do if placed in a similar situation--how I could use the information I carried in my head to survive. I had an idea pop up where this guy goes back and catches the attention of a king or some other powerful guy and having to make choices about how much change to introduce--whether the knowledge he brought from the future would have good or bad effects.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
No, I have a day job. If you're serious about writing and working, some things have to take priority and somethings have to go. TV is an obvious chopping block choice. But it's hard when you have demands on your time from good things like family or keeping the lawn mowed. Early mornings are good if you can discipline yourself to get enough sleep.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Creative urges have popped up here or there most of my life. I've written songs and designed computer software. A few years ago, I began to have these ideas for books and tell them to my wife. Finally she said I should get off my rear (metaphorically, since seat time is so important) and start writing. 

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Besides entertaining them, I'd like to plant a seed here or there for future germination.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I used to read a lot of science fiction. In recent years, I've tended toward paranormal--authors like King and Koontz. Mainly I like a story where the character struggles as much with his own demons as with external forces. I'm afraid I may be one of those writers publishers dislike--genre hoppers.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Feeling inadequate, I think. It's something I just have to do anyway.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
There are lots of little experiences I've drawn on for situations through the book. A look from a boss, or a comment someone made in passing, things like that. Since this book is a historical novel, several of the characters are drawn from real figures, and some of the events did happen. For example, Charles XIII, King of France invaded Italy at the time this story is set, and kicked off the Italian Wars. Of course, all the action of the characters in the book is strictly fiction.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I suppose there's a little of me in each of my characters. I hope it's the good parts. He's different, I guess, in that he's willing to sacrifice relationships to get what he wants. I give him a hard time for it, though. (ha)

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. It holds tons of information, and many paths of distraction. I've found Wikipedia to be a valuable starting place if you don't put your undying trust in it.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I'm writing grandchildren-friendly prose. My stories deal with adult themes of sex, violence, etc., but the gory details are off-camera.

12) What about your book makes it special?
I feel inadequate, remember? I hope it's the struggle for meaning people remember.

13) What is your marketing plan?
The plan is evolving. Lea Shizas and the bunch at MuseItUp Publishing are participating in a group effort instead of an “every dog for himself” strategy.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My web site is and my blog is I would be remiss to leave out the MuseItUp Publishing site at: And one can get to know my protagonist at

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Research, research, research. Go visit the places you want to write about if you can. Learn your craft. And write a good story.

Joe thank you for being my guest today.  It's been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interview with author Terri Main

Today my guest is MuseItUp author, Terri Main.  Ms. Main's book, Dark Side of the Moon, will be available in February, 2011.  Ms. Main has agreed to discuss her book and her writing life.

Terri, tell me a little about your book.

This is a cozy murder mystery that happens to take place at the end of the twenty-first century in a habitat on the moon. Carolyn Masters is a professor of history and a former FBI profiler. After the death of her mother, whom she had cared for over a period of years, she is feeling a need for a change. When she is offered a position at the newly formed Armstrong University on the moon, she accepts. However, she is not there long before a colleague is murdered and she along with Michael Cheravik, criminology professor and former Dallas PD homicide detective, find themselves caught up in a journey to discover the murderer, stop a terrorist plot against earth, exorcise their own demons and maybe find love in the second half of their lives.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

Oddly enough it was a dream I had in high school. I dreamed of living in a colony on the moon. A golden eyed (and incredibly handsome) alien shows up. He somehow is accused of murder, and I have to find the real killer and defend him before a jury. I had just seen "To Kill a Mockingbird," and my summation sounded a lot like that in the movie.

Over the years I'd played around with the idea, later settling on a matronly school teacher as my main character. By this time I wasn't quite so interested in golden eyed aliens. So, I started thinking about cozy mysteries. Cozies are mysteries in which the puzzle is at the center of the mystery. They usually take place in small towns among the genteel sort, and usually have an amateur sleuth pressed into service to solve the crime. She isn't quite an amateur, but she has been trying to escape her past with the FBI. From there I crafted the story which began with a dream entirely unlike the final story.

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

My first best destiny is teaching. I teach communication at a local community college. Now, that involves a good deal of writing. This is especially true since I teach online classes. But when it comes to fiction, I am definitely part time. This is my first novel.

I don't think you ever "have" the time to write. You always have to make it. I tend to write in 15-20 minute segments. I write while waiting for the doctor or between classes. I will have a few minutes, and I'll go to Dr.Wicked's "Write or Die" and write furiously for 15 minutes and get 300-400 words written. I also tend to be a night owl. Right now it's almost 2 a.m., and I'm answering these questions. Fortunately, I don't have to get up early. Writing when you are at your peak also helps with productivity. But I am writing off and on all day.

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

During the summer between grade school and seventh grade, I decided to write a novel. It was a science fiction novel about a guy living in the 21st century (which seemed like the distant future at the time) who has a visit from a scientist ancestor and a scientist descendent at the same time. He's an accountant. Good premise, but the story went nowhere. From that time on I wrote. Just out of high school, I published my first piece. A poem. I got two dollars. Since then I've written over a hundred magazine articles, a dozen video scripts and more radio commercials and newspaper articles than I can count.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

With this one, I hope they will have an enjoyable few hours. If they escape from the trials of life for a little bit of time, that's a big deal. If they find some other meaning in what I write all the better. "Meaning" in writing is always a collaborative function between writer, reader and context. I may have a certain type of meaning that I get from my writing. I wrote this shortly after my own mother passed away. It really helped me work through a few things. I don't, however, expect this to be a grief therapy book. The reader brings his or her own background to the reading as well. She or he may find meanings that I never intended. Like an ink blot test, what you see is driven by who you are. And the context affects you as well. I remember reading Frost's The Road not Taken in high school faced with seemingly infinite choices and the responsibility of choosing wisely. Today, I am nearing the end of some of those roads. My "meaning" found in that poem is quite different than it was 40 years ago.

So, I'm not trying to send any messages here. I'm trying to tell a good story. What my reader gets from it really depends on that reader.

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

I find myself writing hard science fiction, soft science fiction and mysteries.  I am also working on a fantasy novel, but it is really kind of a science fiction thing by the time we get to the end of the book. I guess in my youth, things weren't always that great. We struggled for money. My mother lost most of her eyesight when I was fourteen. I had to assume a lot of responsibility. Being intellectually inclined basically kept my ostracized from my peers. But I could escape in my novels. I could work out the puzzles in the mysteries or fly through space in the science fiction stories. For fifty cents I could get a book and escape the trials of life for a few moments. I guess I like these genres because of that.

I'm afraid I don't write "significant" stuff or "serious" literature like so many of my colleagues at the college. My writing will never win prizes, but it may help someone get enough of an escape that they can return to the work of daily living a bit refreshed and like my dad would say, "That ain't nothin'."

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

Fear of being presumptuous. I remember going to a news stand and looking both ways before buying a copy of Writer's Digest as a teenager. I was always afraid someone would see and think I was pretending to be something I wasn't. Taking journalism in college helped a lot. I learned basic writing skills and the discipline to write whether I felt like it or not. As I got better, the less presumptuous I felt.

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

Like I say, my Mom died about five months before I started writing this story. Many of the emotions of the main character are similar to my own as I, too, had to re-examine my own life as a 50 something career woman who had devoted much of her adult life to caregiving.

I also found myself inserting small things like a story about getting stranded at a Stuckies outside of Albuquerque during a rainstorm when we were on vacation. It was a warm memory of being with family, riding out the storm and drinking pecan milkshakes.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

Well she is 55, a college professor, one of her degrees is in psychology and another in English literature. Those sorts of things are very much like me. However, I was never with the BAU. I am not quite as controlled in my speech as she is. I have not lived as much in urban areas as she has.

Ultimately, every character a writer creates is a part of them. We tear off pieces of ourselves. We exaggerate some qualities, eliminate others, explore those sides we keep hidden or try to deny. But every character good, bad or neutral contains some kernel of the author. If it didn't we could think up that character. It would be purely derivative from outside sources and, thus, would not be natural or believable.

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

This is "hard" science fiction. What that means is that this is a story that is based on a reasonable extrapolation from our current understanding of science. There are no Faster-than-Light vehicles or transporter beams. I love those things, but I took a different path. Most everything in this book is something that is in the pipeline of current research. Now, that can be a problem sometimes. One of my whiz-bang gadgets that I created three years ago was a book printing and binding machine. I had read something about a prototype some lab had built. Well, the Espresso book machines are now actually being deployed. So, it's not so whiz-bang.

I did a lot of my research in Gerald K. O'Neill's book High Frontier published in the late 70's about a space based habitat which was based on 1970's technology. This was an actual proposal by a NASA scientist. The space habitat in my book is actually called The O'Neill Habitat.

I also read a lot of things in The New Scientist. I try to keep up with the very earliest stages of research. I also found odd ball things that I could incorporate into the story. There was just a brief note about certain types of nanobots that could be built into fabrics to create self cleaning ones. I just added that as a bit of color.  I saw a bit on a science channel special on balloons about a plan to use balloons to loft satellites to a high altitude where they would be launched into orbit. I used that idea for my Lighter Than Air launch vehicle that Carolyn rides into orbit.

This is the first in a series and I scan the RSS feeds from a number of science sites daily for ideas.

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

I really don't like writing them for different reasons. Let's start with sexually explicit scenes. It's kind of like Friday night at my house growing up. About 1 or 2 a.m., I might wake up and find the door to my parents room closed. Okay, by the time I was in high school, I knew what was going on. However, did I need to see it? No. You don’t need explicit depiction of the sex act to acknowledge its existence. Let them walk up stairs in each other's arms and shut the door. Anything more than that nine times out of ten is being done primarily to titillate. I'm not in that business.

Violence is a different thing. Sometimes it is essential to show a specific violent act in order to move the story ahead and having it happen off screen just won't work. Now, I only rarely write violent scenes. The body is discovered by someone and that's it. I may mention the blood pool if that is a relevant clue otherwise, I give a few details and let the reader fill in the rest. That actually works well with cozies since the reader is not an "action" reader but a character and "puzzle" reader.

I'm not sure I really add much to the story by drawing a word picture of blood spurting out of a cut artery. I remember Hitchcock's Psycho. That was scarier than any Freddie or Jason movie and yet there was little explicit violence. Think about the shower scene. You see the knife rise, hear that music and then see the knife fall and you see blood circle the drain. Much scarier than if you saw everything.

I have one scene though in the current book where overt and somewhat explicit violence is necessary. But I agonized over it, writing it where the violent act is stopped before it happens, but part of Carolyn's character arc required this to occur. If you want to know more you have to read the book. But I think with both of these, if you can write the story without the explicit stuff, then why use it? If it is necessary, then keep it short and get back to the characters.  That's my philosophy.

What about your book makes it special?

Well, it's a science fiction mystery. That is pretty unusual. Additionally, it's a cozy mystey. Most of the science-fiction mysteries I've seen have been more of the hardboiled PI or police procedural types. Also, I think it is a bit hopeful. Sure there's a murder and a plot against earth but the bad guy is caught, the earth is saved, the main characters, damaged as they are, begin a process of renewal and repair. This is not a dark future. This is one that still has some hope. In modern science fiction, that's kind of rare.

What is your marketing plan?

Well, doing blog interviews.  Seriously, I'm going to be reaching out online direct to readers. I'll be providing promotional materials for bloggers, columnists, newspapers and all sorts of media. Also, I have a fun Facebook page at .  There are fun things there. Stories based on the characters, information about the world of Armstrong City, status reports from the characters.

I also have a blog at where Carolyn will make periodic blog entries. I will be having a website for the book up late this summer at http:.//

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Best place right now is the Facebook page at

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

Read, read, read, read and when you have read, read some more. Don't just read the current stuff either. Read the classics. We may not approach these genres in exactly the same way now, but that's the foundation. If you reject that approach, then you need to at least know it. You can download the classics of just about any genre from The Gutenberg Project. Then read the current work.

Read with a pen. Mark passages that work and ask yourself, why do they work? I would say it is also good to read about your craft. Writer's Digest Books has guides to writing just about every type of genre around. Take some basic creative writing and journalism courses. You will learn different things from each, but both will help.

Also join email lists or discussion boards with other authors. You can find many of these at . I belong to CozyWriters, Museconferenceboard, Fellowship of Christian Writers, and The Lost Genre Guild.  You can learn from each other.  By the way, there is a wonderful free online writing conference in October. I'll be teaching there, so will lots of other writers, editors and publishers. It's the Muse Online Writer's Conference. http:// You will learn from the presenters and from the other participants.

Terri, thank you for being my guest today and sharing your thoughts and useful information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interview with author Jeffrey Goddin

Today, my guest is Damnation Books, LLC author, Jeffery Goddin.  Jeffery's book Vasilov's Demon is now available for purchase.  Jeffrey has agreed to discuss his book and his writing life.

1) Tell me a little about your book.

Vasilov’s Demon is about a man who makes the choice to become a survivor in the Soviet era in Russia by being among the strongest, the toughest, and the most violent.  There’s a spiritual price to pay, however, and in the process, he’s haunted through his life by an ambiguous demonic figure that encourages him on the path he’s taken.

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

The story is kind of an exorcism of disturbing images I’ve picked up from readings of the awful violence and paranoia of Soviet rule in Russia.  The Russian Czars were no Boy Scouts, but from the execution of the Czar’s family in 1918 to the end of Stalin’s rule in 1953--and for years after that, millions of people in Russia and occupied countries literally spent their lives in fear--and the atrocities committed rival those of the Nazi camps.  This is real Evil, and one can’t help but wonder if it has a demonic element as well as a human element.  What kind of person would it make you into to live in such an era?  I’d think it would be like the guy says in Bladerunner:  “Either you’re cops, or you’re little people.”

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

I teach business communication as a profession, so with that, and trying to keep up with my family, and a 90 year old house to maintain, I’m definitely part-time.

Although not a morning person, I often get up before dawn when my son goes to school and write for awhile, then try to get in a nap before the real day begins.   I also take a legal pad with me about anywhere I travel in case I get the idea for a project.   Keep a lot of projects going at once, so if you don’t exactly feel in the mood to write something romantic, you can sit down and write something scary, or some nonfiction.  There’s always something you can work on.

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

I began to write in my pre-teen years.  My first writing was morbid, and Dad didn’t like it.  Then I sold a story to Galaxy, like, about 30 years ago, and  I knew it was possible.

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

It varies.  I write fiction, nature articles and essays, do some photo work and write paranormal articles.
In the nature writing, I want to try and share that love of the outdoors that my family gave me.
In the fiction, I mainly just want to entertain you.  Vasilov’s Demon is really an exception here, because part of my motivation in writing it was to illumine a time and place where you could literally be sent to Siberia with only the clothes on your back for moving a picture of Stalin from one wall of your apartment to another.

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

I write supernatural tales, horror, fantasy, dark fantasy, and a little science fiction.  I like these genres because you can do things with language and events and scenes that you can’t do in more realistic writing.  Also, these are the genres I enjoy reading.  There are some writers, like Tanith Lee, and the late Karl Edward Wagner, whose work just takes you completely away into the world they’ve created.  I also love classic supernatural writers like Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Montague Rhodes James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Machen, and Robert E. Howard.

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

Getting time for it.   You have to learn to take advantage of any block of time when you don’t have something else to do, and regard writer’s block as an illusion.

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

The protagonist and the specific scenes are totally fictional, but all the main historical events and historical details are true.

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

Not like me at all.  That’s part of the fun of writing.  The only thing I and Vasilov share is a love of classical music.

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

It happened I already knew a lot of the history, and I also consulted a friend named Chuck Burkart who
has a deep knowledge of the era.

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

Writing sexual scenes is fun, but that doesn’t apply to this story.  Writing violent scenes isn’t disturbing because you’re concentrating on how to make the scene effective in terms of craft.  I do find reading violent scenes disturbing if they’re too realistic, or obviously non-fictional.

12) What about your book makes it special?

It has a mix of history and intense scenes and a supernatural/spiritual strangeness that I’ve not really seen in any short fiction I’ve read.

13) What is your marketing plan?

Though I’ve been writing a long time, I’m new to the whole online publishing and marketing scene.
Working on that.

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

There’s not much to know.  Most of my writing’s out of print, but I’ve quite a few internet tracks that might lead to some of the publications.  My easiest writing to find would be a couple of early novels, work in Space & Time and Fate magazine, and fiction that was anthologized in the DAW  Books’ Year’s Best Horror paperbacks.

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

Read Peter Straub’s Ghost Story if you want to write book-length horror.  It’s terribly hard to really keep tension up through hundreds of  thousands of words, but this is one of the few works since Dracula  that actually maintains a level of supernatural suspense over the length of a novel. 

But whether you want to write short pieces or long, you have two choices: write something different, or write to an existing genre. My biggest mistake, lifelong, was not really getting into any writing community and networking, and not keeping up with trends on what people are reading.  Another problem is writing a story without a specific publisher in mind.  I have stories I think are good that it took 20 years to get published because they didn’t exactly fit market niches.

On the other hand, don’t take an editor’s rejection too seriously.  One of my stories that one editor called
“a very dumb story” made it to a year’s best anthology.   Editors, particularly those who publish their own magazines, have quirks.  But remember, it’s their project, not yours!  Keep looking (and networking) and good luck!

Thanks, Jeff, for sharing your tips and information about your writing life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review of Vasilov's Demon

By: Jeffrey Goddin
Published by: Damnation Books, LLC

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

In Vasilov’s Demon, Mr. Goddin has crafted a chilling short story spanning almost a half century of war and destruction. The mood is dark, and his writer’s voice is in character with the changing times of the tale.

In this story, we first find a young man tormented by his inner demons during the Russian Revolution in 1918. As a soldier he is ordered to kill the Czar and his family. Instead, he throws acid at one of the daughters. This small act sends him into despair. A despair so deep only violence and mayhem can release him. Sometime after the incident with Czar, young Vasilov wakens in a strange house. The owners have been murdered and, too, his companions. Vasilov only remains alive and is faced by a demon who offers him eternal life. For Vasilov, this means a life of unhappiness, the torture and torment of others, and unending nightmares.

Mr. Goddin cleverly moves the story forward through successive eras wherein a man with Vasilov’s unique talent is needed. From the Russian Revolution, to the World War in 1943, on to Hungary in 1956, and at last to East Berlin in 1965, Vasilov is faced with a life he doesn’t want. No matter what he tries, the demon has promised him he will die by no man’s hand.

Will Vasilov find release from the endless cycle of death and destruction? Will his eternal life continue or can he find a way to end it? Read Vasilov’s Demon to travel Vasilov’s dark road through hell on earth.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interview with author Emily Pikkasso

Today, my guest is MuseItUp Hot author, Emily Pikkasso. Emily's book, The Oak King's Daughter is a hot spicy romance and will be available January, 2011.

Thank you, Emily, for joining us today. Before we begin, why don’t you tell everyone a bit about your book?

Dara, the heroine, is the daughter of the King of the Oaks. She is in love with her father’s mage, a handsome, young man named Tinne. Her father disapproves of the alliance, he demands that Dara abandon her foolish ways and marry for the good of the Oak Kingdom. Dara is less than impress, to say the least, so she takes matters into her own hands. What she doesn’t know is that Tinne has an agenda of his own. If you want to know the rest, you’ll have to wait until January when The Oak King’s Daughter is released.

Where did the concept for the book come about?

It is based, very loosely, on an old Welsh myth. The Oak King rules the summer months and The Holly King, the dark winter months. Twice yearly, the two kings battle for the hand of (depending on the version you read) the queen, or over a daughter. The victor rules with the lady in question at his side until it is time to battle again. Tinne means Holly in Celtic Tree Ogham.

How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

This one didn’t take very long, as it is fairly short. About two months, between writing and then re-writes.

Are there any authors that have influenced your own writing?

Charles de Lint, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey to name a few.

Do you have any favourite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

I listen to Celtic music, harps, pipes, fiddles and The Traveling Mabels and Ian Tyson.

As a writer, what is your greatest fear?

That no one will want to read my books. My husband complains that I need to write a “Doug’s Notes” (similar to those old Coles Notes we used in the dark ages, back when I was in high school) so that he will know what the heck I’m talking about. Magic creatures are beyond him !

What normally occupies your desk while writing?

Tea mug (a huge one!) A picture of girl holding a white dragon that says “May your heart always be young and your dreams live forever” by Jody Bergsma, a large triplet crystal with amazing lovely energy, a date book, papers, God knows what else!

Do you have any new projects that you are working on?
If so, what are they?

A Christmas romance which is quite amusing and I have a couple of other romances started. I am also working on a collection of Irish myths and legends.

What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?

Believe in your story, if don’t think it’s wonderful, who will? Write, re-write, edit and then get people you trust to read and make suggestions.

Please tell us where to find you.

My website is :
I am on Facebook at
My author page at MuseItHOT! Publishing is:

If you want to add anything please feel free to do so.

I just want to say thanks for having me today. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

Emily, thank you for stopping by and discussing your writing and your new book.