Friday, August 31, 2012

Jo Linsdell,Out and About at the Zoo

AUTHOR: Jo Linsdell
BOOK TITLE: Out and About at the Zoo
PUBLISHER: self published using

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

I've been writing pretty much since I could hold a pen. I used to love creative writing classes at school, then I got into poetry in my teens and would write it as a way of venting my feelings. As I got older, I had various jobs working on publications and writing research articles but these were about dentistry and neurology and not really what I wanted to be writing about.

In 2006 everything changed. I saw an ad that an English language newspaper in Florence was looking for new writers to contribute to the paper. I sent off an article, and it got published in the very next edition as it was. This was a huge turning point for me as it made me realize I could write about things I was actually interested in. Soon after I started work on my first book.

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

I'm a writing mum. I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old and so fit my writing in around them. I work on my writing everyday, even if I only manage 5 minutes here and there.

I think that if someone really wants to be a writer they need to make it a priority. It would be so easy to skip days, especially when my little one has had me up all night, but I love writing and always find a way to make time for it. I take any time I get. It's amazing how much you can get done in just a short amount of time if you're motivated.

What influences your writing?

I write various genres and so inspiration can really come from anywhere and everywhere.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

I've published two non-fiction books Italian for Tourists and A Guide to Weddings in Italy and various e-books. This is my first children's book, but I enjoyed doing it so much I've already started on another one.

I've also had poetry and short stories published and work as a freelance writer covering topics like Italy, social media, and parenting.

My first non-fiction book in Italian will be released later on this year and I'm working on a chick-lit too.

It's fair to say my writing is very varied :)

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

I wrote my children's picture book Out and About at the Zoo after taking my son to the zoo for the first time. He's always shown a big interest in my writing and asked me why I hadn't written a story for him. I figured he made a good point and so Out and About at the Zoo was born.

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

This experience has been completely different from my other writing projects as it's the first time I'm also an illustrator. Who ever thinks putting a children's book together is easy is wrong. In a way it's harder than writing a full length novel.

I started by writing the text, and that was actually the easy bit. Next I sketched some ideas for the illustrations and made a paper draft of the book layout.

My son was a huge help as at 4 years old he is full of questions and very honest in giving his opinions. He made it very clear, both with the text and the illustrations, what he liked and what he didn't, and I made changes until it reached his standards.

It was nice to be able to involve him so much in my work for once and has made the book even more special to me.

Drawing the pictures for the book was fun but making them digital and print quality was not an easy task as I had no experience with illustrator programs. This book has been a huge learning curve for me. I scanned the sketches into the computer and then used Adobe Illustrator to turn them into the finished pages for the book. I would have been lost without the help and advice from my graphic friend Simon, who saved the day more than once with his technical knowledge.

This is also my first time using createspace for publishing, and so I felt like a 'newbie' all over again from start to finish.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

The writing industry has changed a lot over the past few years, and self-publishing is no longer considered a plan B for writers that can't get a book deal. Self publishers are becoming best sellers, and the reputation of self publishing has changed to reflect that. Some of the big names in the industry are ditching their big name publishers in favor of self publishing. For me self publishing was plan A. I wanted to have complete control over my book in all it's stages.

I enjoy the marketing aspect of being a writer as much as the writing itself, and so that wasn't a problem factor. In today's writing industry all writers need to promote their own work themselves to a certain extent, which ever publishing route they decide to take.

What is your marketing strategy?

I'm a social media junky and a huge fan of networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Social media therefore plays an important role in my marketing strategy.

I'm currently doing a 3 month long virtual tour to promote the launch of the book including interviews, guest posts, book spotlights, reviews, LIVE twitter interviews, Facebook wall chats, radio interviews and more. The schedule can be found at my website

I'm also planning on taking part in several online conferences as well as off line events throughout the year.

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

If you plan to self publish an agent isn't necessary. If you want to go down the traditional route an agent will be needed to get your manuscript in front of the big name publishers. As with every decision regarding your writing, you should research wel,l so you know what your options are and which are best suited to your project and character.

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

At my website or via my various social media sites:

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

Word choice is very important. The text of a children's book is limited so every word counts. There is little room for visual description but most of that is done with the illustrations anyway.

Read it aloud. Children's books are meant to be read aloud. Read to an audience or record yourself reading the text so you can check for flow.

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Out and About at the Zoo highlights how special quality time together can be for a mother and child. Rhyming text and colorful pictures accompany this fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.

The official release date for Out and About at the Zoo (ISBN/EAN13: 1477446591 / 9781477446591) was 1st June 2012.

Purchasing links:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mike Hayes, The Younger Days

AUTHOR: Mike Hays
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
MuseItUp Bookstore
Amazon Link

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
A relative told me of a family legend handed down from an old uncle, who grew up in the late 1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, the infamous outlaws Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank.  

I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place.  The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story started to walk, but it was still a short story at best.

Through a Bible verse about redemption and forgiveness, Jeremiah 31:34, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it's gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it set up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Part-time. I write early in the morning, scribble notes during the day at work then write blog posts and marketing during the evening.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been able to write, I don’t know when that switched to actually being a writer.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope readers learn a little something new and are entertained by the story.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I prefer to write middle grade/tween from a boy point of view because that is the way I see the world.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
For me, it is finding the time to write and work on all the promising ideas I have. When I have a good idea, I’ll write a summary and save the file in my google drive while it incubates inside my head.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I read four books on the Younger Brothers, Cole Younger’s autobiography, several books and first person accounts of the Border War and quite a bit of research on the weapons of the period.

What about your book makes it special?
I think it provides a look into life during a dark period in US history at the western border of the US Civil War that is only touched upon in history curriculums.

What is your marketing plan?
Promote regularly on social media, blog posts and interviews. I also try to approach as many reviewers as possible about reviewing my book.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I blog about life and coaching at my site,
I post writing/promo information at
Facebook Author Page -
Twitter: @coachhays64

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Write the story in your head and write everyday. Read, read and read.

What’s in the future for you?
Keep putting the words down one at a time and see where it takes me.

Brief  Synopsis
The tension in post Civil War Missouri builds to a boiling point between 11-year old Boy Smyth and his mild mannered, devout father over the father's embarrassing lack of support for Boy’s Border War heroes, the outlaw Cole Younger and the notorious Border War phantom William "The Butcher" Bryant.
The family farm is visited by Cole Younger and his injured brother, Jim, of the infamous James-Younger gang, on the run after a train robbery in Iowa.  Much to his surprise, Boy discovers the Younger brothers are childhood friends of his Ma and Pa. Cole has come to their farm searching for the aid of Boy’s mother to nurse Jim’s gunshot wound.  As the Youngers rest and heal, Boy learns about his family’s past and begins to understand why Pa is the way he is.
After the Youngers leave for their Texas hideout, a new band of visitors arrive at the farm intent on violent revenge.  Everything the family built becomes threatened by the strangers, forcing Pa to make the decision to unleash a long hidden identity in order to save his family.


Again, the leader spoke. “Last time. With your son’s life in the balance, do you confess to being the notorious murdering scoundrel, Butcher Bryant?”
Pa looked at me again. He bowed his head, not in defeat but rather in prayer. After a few moments, he again raised his eyes to meet mine. “Son, I am sorry you have to hear this. But you must remember I will always love you and your ma.” He sat up tall and proud in the saddle, and said to the leader, “Sir, I am indeed…”
A shotgun blast broke the tension, and everyone jumped. Sophie started forward but settled as she felt the tension from Pa’s noose. Ma strode out of the barn. She cracked open the double barrel shotgun, kicked out the spent shell with her index finger, grabbed a new shell from her dress pocket and reloaded. She snapped the gun back together and aimed it right at the leader’s chest. Ma walked within ten feet of him. “Let them go and get out of here.”
She turned to me being held by the bearded man. “You okay, son?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I answered.
“You,” she said to the scraggly man. “Untie that noose and get my husband down from there.”
The scraggly man looked to his leader, who nodded for him to do it.
“What are you going to do, shoot us all?” mocked the leader.
“No. Just you,” Ma answered.
The leader took a step toward Ma. “You ain’t got the nerve, lady.”
Another step… “Shooting people at this close of range.”
Another step… “Especially with a shotgun…”
One more step closer… “Ain’t a very pretty sight or a very easy thing to do.”
Ma toughened her resolve, but the man took one slow step after another toward her. She leaned her weight into the shouldered shotgun, ready to pull the trigger.
“Don’t, Mary,” yelled Pa. “It’s not worth it!”
The leader stopped in his tracks about two steps from the barrel of the shotgun, which began to tremble in Ma’s hands.
“They’ll lynch you for sure, Bill.” Ma said. “God forbid I stand around and watch them without a fight.”
She turned her head toward Pa. With her attention momentarily down, the leader sprang forward. He grabbed the barrel of the shotgun and pushed it toward the night sky. Ma pulled the trigger. Confusion broke. The bearded man, with me still trapped in the crook of his arm, backed up until he was within arms reach of Sophie. The scraggly man sprang into action and grabbed Ma’s arms from behind. The leader jerked the shotgun from her grasp. He held the shotgun by the barrel, and with an evil grin on his face, he stared at Pa. Then, the leader, apparently in full control of the situation again, made the most horrific mistake of his life. He wound up and swung the shotgun by the barrel in an arc upward toward Ma. The stock caught Ma across the side of the face. She immediately went limp and crumpled to the dirt.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Penny Estelle, Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare

AUTHOR:  Penny Estelle
BOOK TITLE:  Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare
PUBLISHER:  MuseItUp Publishing
GIVEAWAY?:   A PDF copy for one of the commenters.  Be sure to leave CONTACT INFORMATION when you comment to be eligible.

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

About 35 years ago, I wrote an historical romance.  It took me 5 years, and it’s about 400 typed pages.  I celebrated because I finished it and then put it in a box, and it now lives in my closet.  I became serious about writing 3 years ago when I retired.  I worked at an elementary school and had decided I wanted to write using these crazy kids I had come to know and care about.

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

Well I am retired, so I should be a full time writer, but the answer to your question about how I organize my writing time is….”very poorly”, therefore, I am more of a part time writer…working on full time!

What influences your writing?

Anything that catches my eye.  My grandkids playing with a certain toy, a commercial concept or a jigsaw puzzle I am working on.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

I have 4 stories out, with 2 more that have been picked up.  Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare, which is the first story of the Wickware Sagas, Hike Up Devil’s Mountain, A Float Down the Canal, and one non-fiction story about my trip down solar lane called, Solar – One Family’s Reality.

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

For 21 years I watched little kids run into the school library, grabbing picture books, excited to check them out and take their treasures home.  Not so much with the older kids.  They seemed to only read what was assigned.  In today’s world, MG students are faced with their own problems.  Peer pressure, troubles at home, bullying, etc.  They should have stories that let them escape reality for just awhile.

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

My grandson told me they were talking about Hitler in school.    He said if I could talk to him I would tell him what a jerk he is and that he was going down!  That got me thinking about kids of today meeting up with historical figures of yesteryears.  I wrote Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare and submitted it to MuseItUp.  I was ecstatic when they picked it up!

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

With the invention of the eBook, publishing has changed so much, luckily for me. It’s no longer just the “Big Six” publishers so authors have a better chance of getting their work out there.  I have 2 short stories I self-published and they are selling.  That being said, to self publish a book is relatively easy and some of the stories I have read are fabulous stories that are well written and well edited.  Others are….sub par and that can hurt all of us.  

What is your marketing strategy?

Marketing….hmmmm…Marketing is not for wimps!  I use all the social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, my own blog and website plus guest on other wonderful authors’ blogs, such as yourself.  I’ve done 2 radio interviews and donated books to city and school libraries just trying to get my name out there.  I guess the key is to just keep on keepin’ on!

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

I am sure the right agent can do wonders for getting stories sold.  I have never looked into it as all my stories (at this point) are novellas.  If I ever do write a full-blown novel, I just may look into finding one for myself.

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

@pennystales -twitter

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

Keep writing, keep reading, and keep writing some more.

Please give us a brief synopsis or excerpt from your current book and when and where it will be available.

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare – a time travel adventure about Billy Cooper who is annoyed when old lady Wickware assigns an oral report on Friday, and it’s due on Monday.  He already has a full weekend planned.  

He figures a quick computer search will suffice and will be able to skate by on the assignment – that is until he meets his subject face to face in the 14th century.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Maxine Douglas, Rings of Paradise

AUTHOR: Maxine Douglas
BOOK TITLE: Rings of Paradise
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

I lead a pretty boring, everyday life.  I’m a retired legal secretary, grandma to two beautiful granddaughters who couldn’t be any more different…LOL. I’m happily married to a high school friend who found me eleven years ago; up until then I was a single mom trying to make ends meet. I started writing after a friend’s sister became published—Cori Deyoe aka Jessica Barkly—and I just decided if she could do it so could I.  Of course, it’s not as easy as it seems…not by a long shot!

I currently live in Oklahoma trading the long cold winters of the north for the more comfortable winters of the southwest. My husband and I have two horses (one of which is actually my youngest granddaughter’s but her mom rides her all the time), and a German Shorthaired Pointer who is anything but a hunting/bird dog.

I write what I enjoy reading—romance. I do have one or two contemporaries, but I much rather enjoy writing paranormal. There’s something about the unknown that really attracts me. Yes, I do watch Ghost Hunters!

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

Rings of Paradise centers around professional wrestling.  Shadoe is the reigning champion, doesn’t trust women, and is tired of his profession being seen as a circus. He ends up buying a small, never heard of magazine, then hires a copy editor who is craving to be a journalist. Khristen proves to be the match of a lifetime and not one either of them was looking for or even desired.  Rings will be released on August 24 by Muse It Up Publishing (

How long have you been writing?
Since the 1980s I believe. I worked full-time, so used every moment I could--lunch, breaks, after supper, before bed. My first book was a story centered around the time I lived in Nashville and the friends I knew in “the business.”
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I took creative writing classes and found I loved it. However, I had dreams of being a songwriter, so I wrote mostly lyrical poems. Cori Deyoe really inspired me to continue what I started in high school and pen my first romance.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I’m a pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I always start with some kind of idea and/or characters that fuel the fire to move on.  I’ve had to go back and rewrite the beginning of books because my characters decided I wasn’t telling their story right. LOL

However, I’m looking forward to penning my first romantic suspense and will HAVE to do some sort of outline. I have a feeling it’ll be the best of both worlds by the time I’m done.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Depends on what has sparked the story.  Sometimes it can be a picture of a story in a magazine.  For example, there was a picture of women’s roller derby on the front of a weekly magazine in my hometown. I noticed it as I was walking into the cafeteria at work during lunch. By the time I got through the line with my lunch in hand, I had a premise in my head, went back and grabbed the magazine. I’ve been collecting information since that time as I would like that to be my first romantic suspense.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Discipline to sit down and write. I’m what they call a “muse” writer, meaning if my muse isn’t knocking on my shoulder and then my head, I’m not writing. I’m trying to get better at that and set time aside, but old habits are hard to break. However, when I’m in the groove, almost nothing can stop me and I can actually get things done.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Rings did require some research, but I’d been to enough wrestling matches—yes I had my favorites such as Tommy “Wildfire” Rich and Bret “The Hit Man” Hart—not to mention the pay-per-views and tv shows.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend time with my family and friends. Being new to Oklahoma, I’m lucky that our oldest moved here a couple of years before we did…although the other three are in Wisconsin, and we miss them. I’m still working on making new friends, and we have found some in the couple where are horses are stabled. They are from Montana/South Dakota and understand why we would leave the snow country.
I just bought one of their QH cutting horses, so I’m looking forward to the bonding part of getting to know the mare. She’s got a foal on her side right now and one “in the oven.” We brought a Paint here with us, and she’s totally bonded with our daughter-in-law.
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?

I’m glad to see the big houses have expanded into e-books and aren’t being left in the dust. However, I don’t think enough credit is being given to the small publishing houses who never abandoned the e-book.  It’s obvious with the growth of e-readers, tablets, and such that e-books are here to stay.

Do I think print will totally go away?

I don’t believe so, at least not in my lifetime.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for

Maxine Douglas
Rings of Paradise: 

Dear Reader,
I’m not much on putting words to paper, action is more up my alley. I’m Flame, the reigning champion in the Universal Wrestling World (UWW). So why am I here?

I grew up in a wrestling family and cut my teeth on the squared circle, which by the way is the only “lady” I trust any more.

I’ve gone and bought out a small press magazine in Madison, Wisconsin that was going nowhere fast, hired a woman by the name of Khristen Roberts, who according to the editor-in-chief is untrained and wants nothing more than to be a journalist.

Okay, I’m a sucker in helping people out, it’s my one weakness, if I have any. Problem is she’s on vacation in Hawaii. I’ve got to catch up with her somewhere along the line for her to join up with me and the UWW. I just hope Khristen is up for the ride…it’s always a trip.

Yours truly,
The Flame

Knight to Remember: 

In 15th Century England, The Black Knight a/k/a Sir Reynold, has fallen from grace with his childhood friend, Queen Isabel, and is in a no-win situation. He must compete against his friend, and blood brother Thomas. If he wins, Sir Reynold will be banished from Heartsease; if he loses, Thomas will be stripped of his knighthood…

Courtney Parker is a 21st Century seamstress at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Unlike other reenactors, she performs her profession year-round, making costumes for others. She's always loved the story of the mysterious Black Knight of Heartsease and has looked forward to it every year. But this year’s different…

Issie Cummings, the Ren Faire’s potion shopkeeper, will stop at nothing to gain what escaped her centuries ago...Sir Reynold Loddington’s love and body.

Will Reynold be able to turn back the hands of time and right what went wrong—or will he find himself banned from another country and the woman he loves?


Writing as Debi Wilder:
By the Blue Moon, Book 1 Blue Moon Magic Series: 

Chastity Lynne Langford's turning 34, and she's suddenly, inexplicably, fascinated with sex. Office, elevator, whereever, she can't get enough. Chastity doesn't know her thirst for sex isn't human; but she's about to find out. Because Chastity is the eldest of three prophesied princesses of the Elite werewolf clan and come this Blue Moon, she'll either be mated...or taken.

Justin Matthew Sinclair has been promised the eldest daughter of the Elite clan…a clan of superior werewolves, more human than werewolf.

Highly intelligent and well adapted, Justin and the clan have lived among the humans for centuries; they live for the season of the Blue Moon. It's coming, and with it the rite of passage where Justin will claim his lifemate, Chastity, or die trying to protect her.

For there are other clans, less well-adapted,more werewolf than human, and of these, the Betas are the lowest. Their leader, Rowan hates the Elites and is determined to destroy them. He believes that only the prophesied princesses of the Elite clan can bring them into the human world they only see from the Brey Forest, and the ritual night of the Blue Moon provides just the opportunity he needs to claim Chastity.


Gabby’s Second Chance:

Gabby Adams did the unthinkable – she put her unborn child in harms way and lost. While Ryan Peterson was fleeing the thugs he owed money to for horse betting, Gabby placed herself physically between the man she loved and the men who wanted to harm him. Gabby feels she’s undeserving to give her love to anyone, physically or emotionally. With ghosts laid to rest and Lacey’s help, will Gabby find love in the arms of another man?

Blue Moon Magic Series (print only):

With the season of the Blue Moon comes the likelihood of danger and death. The Beta clan and lowest form of werewolves is commanded by Rowan, a tough, bitter werewolf who hates the Elites and their superiority. The Betas, more werewolf than human, believe only the foretold red or blonde-haired girl babies born to the Elite clan in a span of 3 years would bring them into a world they only look at from the depths of the Brey Forest. The night of the Blue Moon would afford them the perfect opportunity to take the the sisters...

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Never, ever stop writing…if it is truly what you want to do. You will find your characters talking to you at the post inopportune times and in the strangest places, and that’s okay and all part of the process.  Find an organization where you can learn your craft. I would suggest Romance Writers of America ( to find a local writers group and/or Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition ( Also check your local tech schools or university extensions for writing classes, and never miss an opportunity to attend conferences. They will help you learn your craft, then perfect it, and you’ll meet wonder soon to be published authors like yourself as well as those who have paved the road for you.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Thank you Penny for asking me here today! I’ve loved sharing with your readers and hope they have enjoyed my stay. 

Hugs, Maxine.