Thursday 29 December 2011

Happy New Year Readers!

Here’s the thing. I’m so grateful for 2011! It was my break-in year. 2012 will be my break-out year. Allow me to explain – last September, I finally found a home for my young adult time-travel series with MusaPublishing. In April of 2012, years and years of hard work will pay off with the release of ‘THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS AND THE ARCH OF ATLANTIS’. It took years for the breaking-in process to finally yield results, and under nine months to break-out into the world. Yes, it sounds like a pregnancy of a sort, and it is. That’s what it’s like to be a parent – you raise your ‘child’ to the best of your abilities, then set him or her free to do their thing.

So without further ado, I want to post links to young adult authors who broke-out this past year. If any of you received an ereader as a gift, please check out these talented writers and their books. You may just find a new author to follow for years to come.

Arley Cole:
Linda Benson:
Stephanie Campbell:
Cornell DeVille:
L.K. Mitchell:
Mandy Hardwick:
Amaleen Ison:
Kevin Craig:
Sandra Clarke:
S.G. Rogers:

Image: 123rf Stock photo 11529216

Thursday 22 December 2011

Fictional Christmas Baddies

Scrooge. The Grinch. Mr. Potter – not Harry – the miserable old coot in the wheelchair from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. These are a few of my favorite Christmas Baddies – those characters who challenge, set up road blocks and create a swill of holiday ‘uncheer’ for the heroes of their stories. They’re fun to watch and read about, these naysayers of Christmas crank. Can’t they possibly see how wrong they are? That they are creating their reality? No. No they can’t.

My favorite character to date has got to be Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s like a fly in a spider’s web that keeps struggling against his true self until he gets all wrapped up in what he’s created (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes) that it’s almost too late to save himself against himself. I mean, it really takes a meeting with the Grim Reaper to jar that tightwad into a philanthropist? Really?

Then there’s Doctor Suess’s ‘The Grinch’. Stink. Stank. Stunk. That little green creature makes the Martians in H.G. Wells novel ‘War of the Worlds’ approachable, cute and cuddly. Thank goodness for people like Sue Who. She knew what this Christmas ‘stuff’ was all about, and influenced that miserable green Grinch’s heart to open and expand three times its size. You can take away the presents, decorations, candy, and that roast beast, but not the true meaning of Christmas – not the love. Cheers to all you Sue Whos of the world!

Finally, there’s bad old Mr. Potter. Kind of like a Mr. Scrooge, but much worse. He had no ghosts of Christmas past, present or future to visit him. He only had plucky George Bailey, who really didn’t want to stick around Bedford Falls anyway. Let’s face it, if George had left, then Mr. Potter’s life would have been a hell of a lot easier. But it took an angel like Clarence to set George straight and stand up against all those ‘Mr. Potters’ of the world. Kudos Clarence!

So even storybook Christmas Baddies have something to teach the world, and continue to do so throughout their ‘fictional’ lives. And with the advent of ebooks – that’s a long, long, long time. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday. Bah Humbug and Cheers!

Image: 11226648RF Stock Photo

Thursday 15 December 2011

A Writer's BFF ... The Timer

Ready, set, write. Phone rings. You check call display. It’s Mom or Dad or Uncle Conrad from Louisiana. Don’t stop. Keep writing. Let the answering machine pick up or ignore the call. You can call back later. Keep writing. You’ve slotted out one precious hour of uninterrupted time to write by setting your timer. This is YOUR time. No one else’s. Use it to your advantage.

Time is something of a luxury to writers. Time for writing. Time for marketing. Time to social network. Time for self-improvement. Time for your family. Time for yourself. It’s a never ending cycle that we have to manage. So much is written about time management, you could full dozens of shelves. Time is a multitude of multitasking, and sometimes writers feel there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. And guess what? There isn’t. So what to do?

Go to the dollar store and buy a timer. It will be one of the most important investments (and cheapest) as a writer you will make. For less thans two dollars you can purchase a piece of sanity to help you organize your writing life. Set your new BFF to check emails. Fifteen minutes? Twenty? Then do the same for Facebook and Twitter. But keep in mind which activity will help you as an author in the long run. After all – social networking is a marketing strategy – as long as you treat it as such. Then, once you have laid the timer law down, set it for how long you want to sit and just write, with no interruptions (unless the dog really needs to pee).

And when your BFF goes off, make sure you get up and stretch. Writer’s bodies need a time limit too!

Image: 123RF Stock Photo 9655766

Monday 12 December 2011

Who's Your Role Model?

Sometimes it’s a tough question to answer. Most times it requires some thought. Was your role model your grade seven teacher? Or your parents? What about the person who gave you your first job experience? The author whose book you couldn’t put down? Superman, Spiderman or maybe Wonder Woman? Hey, fictional works too.

Who has inspired you to grow? To help you push the boundaries and move those obstacles out of the way so you can bloom, be all that you can be. My guess is that, like me, you’ve had many role models over the course of your life. And hopefully, you’ve become a role model to others.
That’s called passing the baton. It’s also called living by example. To be a role model in this world is a tough gig, but well worth it. That’s why I love to write and create characters that are as flawed as I am, sharing my story of struggle and perseverance. I research, report and hopefully receive results. The pay back is in making some kind of difference to others. To give a piece of yourself away. To offer something of lasting value. To be the change I want to see in the world.

So figure out who your role model(s) is/are, and then honor them by passing on their legacy. 
Image: 123RF stock photos

Thursday 8 December 2011

Authors In The Limelight: S. G. Rogers

I want to thank and welcome, Suzanne Rogers for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, The Last Great Wizard of Yden, is now available at your favorite on-line bookstore.

How long have you been writing, Suzanne? 

Since I was a little girl, really.  Writing was one of those things that helped get me through school.  I was an avid reader as well, and I used to read stories and think about what I’d have done differently if I’d been the author.  Now I get to write the stories I’d like to read.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Last Great Wizard of Yden? 

Yden started out as a screenplay in a writing workshop, and thereafter I decided to turn it into a novel.  I’ve always enjoyed the idea of alternate universes and fantasy worlds, and I wanted to tell the story of a young artist who discovers his inner magic. I also wanted to fashion a role model for my own son.

What sets The Last Great Wizard of Yden apart from other books in the same genre?

The book has frequently been compared to the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series, and of course that’s great.  But the biggest difference might be the world-building aspect of the magical planet Yden.  It’s got its own history, political upheaval and rules for working magic. Wizards grow up in clans and there is a lot of conflict between them.  Add to the mix some bloodthirsty warlords and magical creatures, and you’ve got the perfect world for a cracking good story.

As an author, Suzanne, what is your writing process?

I begin with the characters, always.  Then I test out pivotal scenes in my head until something begs to be written.  Some stories lend themselves to plotting and others seem to want to write themselves.  I enjoy the latter far more because that sort of writing feels the most like creative discovery.

How long did it take for you to start and finish The Last Great Wizard of Yden? 

The original novel took me about five months to write.  But it was written in 1st person point of view.  For my publisher to consider publishing the title, however, I had to rewrite it from 1st to 3rd person point of view.  That painful process took me another month.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Suzanne?

Don’t quit.  Let criticism help you write better.  Don’t ever stop trying to improve your craft.  Oh, and after that learn how to market your product because writing is a business.

Agreed - authors need to be prepared for the business end of writing. So, what’s next for S. G. Rogers the author?

2012 will be a very busy one for me!  I have several fantasy novelettes being published, a romantic fantasy novella, and two fantasy adventures coming out loosely based on Nordic mythology.  Then there are the two sequels to The Last Great Wizard of Yden to publish.  It’s a very exciting time.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I think living in Europe during the Renaissance would have been something special.  Was there something in the water that sparked so much creativity?  Ancient Rome might have been cool, too, for much the same reason.  I suspect when it comes right down to it, people who lived in these ancient societies weren’t too much different than they are now.

After his father is kidnapped, sixteen-year-old Jon stumbles across a closely guarded family secret--one that will challenge everything he has ever believed about his father and himself.  A magical ring his father leaves behind unlocks a portal to another dimension, but in using it, Jon unwittingly unchains the forces of evil. A crisis develops when a malevolent wizard transports to Earth to kidnap Jon’s would-be girlfriend.  With the help of some unlikely schoolmates, and a warrior princess from Yden, Jon embarks on a dangerous quest to free his friend and his father from the most vicious wizard the magical world has ever known.  In the end, Jon will be forced to fight for his life as he attempts to rescue the last great wizard of Yden.

$2.99 e-book at Astraea Press:, Amazon:,

To follow S.G. Rogers, visit her blog at
Twitter @suzannegrogers or visit her on Facebook:

Monday 5 December 2011

Be Outstanding!

There’s so much for an author to do nowadays. Writing, rewriting, polishing, promotion, marketing, networking, and the list goes on. So much to do and not enough time, it seems. So how can an author in today’s publishing market survive? The answer is easy – be outstanding. However, the process is a little bit more complicated than that.

As a writer, you need to develop the constant urge to innovate. Understand what the best writers and exemplars in your chosen field do well and figure out why, then mix, match and reconstruct these elements into something new and better.

Another great piece of advice is to stay diligent in the one field of writing you’re trying to master. Focus on that one specific point on your map or plan, and go for it. Make it your single quest and saturate yourself in it. Become like an alchemist and dilute these desires to fill the gap.

The trick is not to compare yourself with other writers in your field who have had success. Go beyond that and work toward being so good you can’t be ignored.

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin, comedian

Thursday 1 December 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Cornell DeVille

I want to thank and welcome, Cornell DeVille for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. His book, Lost in the Bayou, will be released through Musa Publishing, Friday, December 1st, and will be available at your favorite on-line bookstore, including Musa Publishing.

How long have you been writing, Cornell?

The first story I remember writing was in the third grade, Miss Carmichael's class. It was called Flipper the Fawn. It was a wonderful story, according to Miss Carmichael. And she should know. So, based on her favorable opinion, I decided to become a writer.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Lost in the Bayou?
It's hard to tell where inspiration is born. When I was ten years old, we took a family vacation to New Orleans. I remember seeing the Spanish moss hanging from the trees in the bayou country. It was scary at night, and very memorable. Perhaps that's where the atmosphere for Lost in the Bayou originated. As far as the story is concerned, I think kids are always a little freaked out with missing body parts. That's why Uncle Conrad has a metal claw for a hand.

What sets Lost in the Bayou apart from other books in the same genre?
I think one thing that sets it apart is the impossible task that Robin has to accomplish and her determination to see it through, despite the obstacles. Also, in addition to her courage, there's her ingenuity that plays a major role in allowing her to do what needs to be done. Even at fourteen, she's no dummy, and she knows more than a little about human nature and how to manipulate people in the right direction.

As an author, Cornell, what is your writing process?
I typically start with an idea. It may be an object, a character, or a setting. In Cannibal Island, it was the concept of time travel that started the wheels turning. In Skullhaven, it was the pitiful little orphan, Lily White. And in Lost in the Bayou, it was the spookiness of the bayou and how scary it would be to get lost in there. If you read any of those three books, you'll notice that the opening of each has the particular item just mentioned as the focal point.

How long did it take for you to start and finish Lost in the Bayou?
Well, let's see. It was July of 1959 when we made the trip to New Orleans. So it took me 51 years to get started. Once I began, it only took me about six months to write it. Another three months to rewrite it. And another three months to edit and polish it to a respectable form. So 51 years to start and one year to finish. That's why getting started is the important thing.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Cornell?
I do. First of all, if you want to write well, you need to read as much as possible. I would recommend spending the majority of your reading time in the genre you wish to write in. Go to your library and browse the Newberry Winner section. Reading is key to good writing. And, of course, you need to write every chance you get, too. Join a writing group and get some peer reviews of your writing. Learn to take criticism as a valuable tool for improvement.

Agreed – a writer’s support system has helped me tremendously. So, what’s next for Cornell DeVille the author?
I'm currently in the middle of a sequel to Cannibal Island. The working title is The Rings of Time. It picks up where Cannibal Island leaves off, with Richie home at the Armstrong Estate in Southampton with the Golden Disk and figuring out how to use it. I'm hoping to get the first draft completed by year end, but that remains to be seen.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
Oh, my goodness. That's like asking me if I could have any sports car in the world, which one would it be. There are so many wonderful choices. I think if I had such an opportunity, it would have to be ancient Egypt. I'd like to see how they built those pyramids.

Lost in the BayouCornell DeVille’s blog is
Lost in the Bayou website at

Lost in the Bayou book trailer on YouTube at

Monday 28 November 2011

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Authors nowadays seem to have to wear two hats. One for the writing process and one for the business end. An on-line presence and platform is a must. One marketing firm suggest that book promotion should be done a year before the book actually hits the shelf (real and virtual). Yikes! I’ve been perusing the on-line discussions about marketing books and ebooks, and have posted as much information as I can on Facebook to help my author colleagues with how to pimp their book. Even writing a blog is precious time away from creating an author’s bread and butter.

Here are some ideas to help with the promotion process:

·         Create a professional looking website or blog (or both)

·         Get involved with Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter, Linked etc.

·         Create a video trailer for your book and get it in front of your readers

·         Do a blog tour

·         Get reviews of your books posted on-line (preferably on your blog)

·         Podcast

·         Become a commenter and subscribe to a few blogs in your genre

Most authors dread the marketing process. It’s a tough gig if you’re not a natural born salesperson. Marketing guru Seth Godin suggests to build a media company, or join a book club with authors to help pimp each others books. Ultimately the success (or failure) of a book now falls upon the author’s shoulders one hundred per cent.

The key is to coordinate your life. Know yourself enough so that you’ll promote your book in the areas you’re strongest in, and delegate the tasks that you’re weak at.

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Thursday 24 November 2011

Harvest Season

In the spirit of giving thanks, I just wanted to do a post that reflected how grateful I am for this past year. So much has happened since January. I went from not knowing where I was heading in my writing career, to exploring the possibility of self-publishing ebooks, to learning as much as I could about this exciting new frontier, to actually signing a contract with a publishing company who handles ebooks and paperback books.

What a roller coaster year this has been for me! Suddenly, taking off in a different route, and going down another path has led me to a place I never expected. It's taken me 15 years of the writing-submission-rejection game to reach this plateau. Now, I'm on my way to publication. I'm smiling, beaming actually. I'm also grateful. Grateful that a brand new publishing company like Musa Publishing gave me a chance and made me part of their family. And I'm grateful that I waited 15 years for them. It was worth the wait.

Happy Thanksgiving, Musa Publishing!

Monday 21 November 2011

Are You A Sprinter Or A Marathoner?

Writing is both creative and a business. Every writer knows this – or should know it. Marketing is the key to get your books in the hands of potential readers. How you do this depends on what suits you best. The following has been modified to talk about authors, but it applies to any business. Most of this information comes from a wonderful website called Copyblogger, and I urge any writer (beginner or bestseller) to check out the sage advice and tools this site has to offer.

There really are two kinds of author entrepreneurs, with two styles of working. Neither one is good or bad. Either one can be successful, and either one can go down in flames. Choose the working style that match your personality and everything in your writing business will work better. But pick the wrong style, one that doesn’t match who you are, and your writing business is going to make you miserable.

The two types of author entrepreneurs are sprinters and marathoners. And you’ve got to figure out which kind you are.

A lot of the traditional author types are sprinters. They like to work in focused bursts. They might kill themselves pulling all-nighters for 4 or 6 weeks, create a process that works and deploy it. Dean Wesley Smith is an excellent example of this kind of author. Smith works 18 hours a day so he can make money while he sleeps. Sprinting is a lot of work, because your systems have to be able to work without you — to make money while you sleep.

Marathoners, of course, take a more slow and steady pace. They show up every day. They tend to be excellent at producing quality writing in small, bite-sized pieces. They often fall prey to doing everything themselves, because they can. Bloggers are the consummate marathoners. In fact, bloggers often just keep running year after year and forget there’s such thing as a finish line. Lots of social media techniques are lousy for sprinters. Unless you’re willing to check in a couple of times a day, twitter isn’t the tool for you to find and connect with customers. Neither is Facebook. Or LinkedIn, or MySpace, or a forum. They all need the steady presence that belongs to the marathoner.

So which one are you? Most of us aren’t pure marathoners or pure sprinters. We’re hybrids.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Stephanie Campbell

I want to thank and welcome, Stephanie Campbell for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, Dragon Night, will be released through Musa Publishing, Friday, November 18th, and will be available at your favorite on-line bookstore, including Musa Publishing.

How long have you been writing, Stephanie?
It feels like it’s been forever—in the best possible way, that is. I wrote my first story when I was six. It was during “pig week” at elementary school. My librarian put the story up there with all the published books for the other kids to read. You can imagine how proud that made me feel as a little kid.

When I turned twelve, I was really into fan fiction. I was terrible. (No, I really was.) I had no idea about grammar and all that other stuff. I wrote five hundred pages worth of fan fiction—twelve stories—and got plenty of criticism. But every story I got better and better.

When I was fifteen my sister read one of my essays and told me that I should read a book. I shrugged my shoulders. That was when one of my essays on eating disorders in young adults got an award in a writing competition. After that, I started writing Until We Meet Again.

The rest is history. Until We Meet Again was released the day of my high school graduation. The book is five hundred pages long.

 Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Dragon Night?
Honestly, I don’t really know…I’m very much a serial writer. I sit down and things happen. In fact, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m the one doing it. I see and feel my stories so much that they write themselves. Once the book is done, I feel like it’s my child. *Laughs.* Yes, I “made” it, but it’s its own entity, but it is no longer mine. It belongs to the person reading it, because every person will take Dragon Night differently. That is one of the reasons why I think that books are so beautiful—same book, different visions.

What sets Dragon Night apart from other books in the same genre?
Oh dear. Query letter flashback. *Laughs.* I try to humanize my fantasies. I love my characters. I feel that’s what makes the story different. It isn’t just a fantasy for the sake of it—it’s about a boy learning to grow up, and it’s about someone who’s different. Adolescence is one of the most beautiful and hard time of someone’s life. It is the time that decides what you will become. It is so, SO important. That is why Dragon Night is special—it addresses that.

As an author, Stephanie, what is your writing process?
I never take a break between books. I’ve done the same thing for the past five years. I start one manuscript and write six pages a day, I edit twenty pages of another manuscript, and I publicize another. When the writing stage is done, I will leave the book alone for at least three months. I will edit a book three times before I send it to a publisher. (I like three. Can you tell?)

How long did it take for you to start and finish Dragon Night?
Not long. Dragon Night wrote itself. In fact, Ford was so ready to get out there that he blasted himself upon the page. *Snickers.*

No, but seriously, Dragon Night was very natural for me. It was one of my favorite books to write to date.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Stephanie?

Yes. Don’t ever, ever give up. Also, don’t let criticism get you down. It’s a test of grit out there. I’ve had many people tell me to give it up, some of which were my “friends.” I believe that writers are made through hard work. If you want to be one, then make yourself one. There is no other way to approach something that you love.

That’s great advice – it took me 15 years of not giving up or getting down! So, what’s next for Stephanie Campbell the author?

Lots! Actually, Dragon Night is one of many books that are being released. Right now I’m publicizing my book, Poachers, and am doing book tours to local schools. At the end of November, I’m also releasing another book, P.S. I Killed My Mother. Here’s to hoping for big things!

You dream bigger, you get bigger! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I’m going to approach this honestly, even though it might end up biting me later. I would want to travel back to meet Jesus. I’m very influenced by religion and spirituality. I believe that Jesus is one of the most influential beings in history.

Monday 14 November 2011

Attitude Is A Choice

I get e-mails from BobProctor. I wanted to share a tidbit with you, as I feel it’s worth repeating:

‘Victor Frankl once wrote, "Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitudes in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Frankl was right. Attitude is a choice. You could be faced with a thousand problems, many or most over which you have absolutely no control. However, there is always one thing you are in complete and absolute control of and that is your own attitude.

When you surrender control of your attitude to what appears to be a negative situation, you will react to that situation. More often than not, reacting is inappropriate. On the other hand, if you were to remain objective, you would respond to the situation appropriately, thereby creating a winning situation.’

Bob is right. But, as a writer, how do you apply this idea to a character? I guess that depends on exactly who the character is and what he or she wants. A protagonist will have different goals and will react differently than an antagonist in the same situation. A character’s attitude can change throughout the story, but underneath everything, it’s his or her true nature that will shine through, and allow the reader to connect or disconnect, approve or disapprove with that character.

Attitude is what makes or breaks great characters. To put your character in a seemingly impossible situation, and seeing how they either react or respond is the stuff of wonderful storytelling. There’s always a way to rise above, as long as you have a positive attitude.

Remember: Act as if it were impossible to fail – Dorothea Brand

Thursday 10 November 2011

One Size Does Not Fit All!

There’s a wonderful book I think all parents should read. It’s called ‘The Element’ by KenRobinson. The tagline reads: How finding your passion changes everything. As a writer, I can tell you that’s 100% true. Mr. Robertson writes in his book introduction, ‘I believe passionately that we all are born with tremendous natural capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world. Ironically, one of the main reasons this happens is education. The result is that too many people never connect with their true talents and therefore don’t know what they’re really capable of achieving. In a sense they don’t know who they really are.’

Now that’s just sad. Sad, but true. When I was growing up, the academic subjects were everything. The be all and end all. I suspect they still are. You needed math, reading and writing to get somewhere in this world. Pile on the different types of science (biology, chemistry and physics) add history, geography and a language or two, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded student. But hey, what about the arts? And the trades? Don’t they count? Aren’t they important? Apparently, it seems not. It is my hope that this upcoming generation will change the way schools teach our kids because I have learnt through experience that one size does not fit all.

‘The Element’ is the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion. You find that one thing you love to do, and in doing it you feel like your most authentic self. It took me years to find mine, but I found it – and now I’m enjoying my second childhood writing books.

Monday 7 November 2011

Seven Steps To Success

I want to thank BrianTracy for listing this powerful seven step formula that you can use to set and achieve your goals for the rest of your life. It absolutely works, and I’ve applied this formula when it comes time to sit down a write or revise a book. Every single successful person uses this formula or some variation of this formula to achieve vastly more than the average person. Here it is:

Decide What You Want: Step number one, decide exactly what it is you want in each part of your life. Become a "meaningful specific" rather than a "wandering generality."

Write it Down: Second, write it down, clearly and in detail. Always think on paper. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.

Set A Deadline: Third, set a deadline for your goal. A deadline acts as a "forcing system" in your subconscious mind. It motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true. If it is a big enough goal, set sub-deadlines as well. Don't leave this to chance.

Make A List: Fourth, make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. When you think of new tasks and activities, write them on your list until your list is complete.

Organize Your List: Fifth, organize your list into a plan. Decide what you will have to do first and what you will have to do second. Decide what is more important and what is less important. And then write out your plan on paper, the same way you would develop a blueprint to build your dream house.

Take Action: The sixth step is for you to take action on your plan. Do something. Do anything. But get busy. Get going.

Do Something Every Day: Do something every single day that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment. Develop the discipline of doing something 365 days each year that is moving you forward. You will be absolutely astonished at how much you accomplish when you utilize this formula in your life every single day.

Monday 31 October 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Linda Benson

The Girl Who Remembered Horses
I want to thank and welcome, Linda Benson for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, will be released through Musa Publishing, Friday, November 4th, and will be available at your favorite on-line bookstore.

How long have you been writing, Linda?

Although I wanted to be a writer ever since second grade, and I've dabbled in poetry, song-writing and short story writing over the years, I've been writing seriously for publication for about ten years.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Girl Who Remembered Horses?

I recently found the pages in my journal where I had the first seed of inspiration for this story. It was six years ago, right after Hurricane Katrina, and I realized how nature could easily hand us a catastrophic event that might change everything we know and the way we live. And I wanted to write something about horses and their changing status in our lives as we become a more urban society. I've been involved with horses for 45 years, and I'd recently done a college research project about women and their obsession with horses, and all of those things clicked together.

What sets The Girl Who Remembered Horses apart from other books in the same genre?

Well, there aren't too many horse stories set in the future, for one thing. The other is that although this book might be billed as speculative fiction or apocalyptic fiction, it isn't fantasy. I've tried hard to make all of the situations involving horses and animals as real as possible - something that might actually (in those given circumstances) happen that way.

As an author, Linda, what is your writing process?

I guess you'd say I'm a pantser. I don't write from an outline or any given plotline, but by the seat of my pants. I get an idea, a character, or the spark of a story and just sit down at the computer and see where it takes me. Sometimes it takes me surprising places!

So, how long did it take for you to start and finish The Girl Who Remembered Horses?

It took me a few months to write about half of the story, and because it was so different, I was almost hesitant to show it to my critique group. But they loved it, and prodded me to finish it, which I did. But I got stuck in it a few times, put it aside, and came back to it. So maybe a year or a year and a half to finish the first draft. I had an agent for awhile with this novel, and she and I worked on editing it for several months, but she ultimately wasn't able to sell it. I was thrilled when Musa Publishing picked it up for their Euterpe YA imprint, and I'm excited to finally bring this exciting story to readers!

I’m excited for you too! Do you have any advice for other writers, Linda?

Yes. After you've finished a manuscript, put it aside and let it sit for awhile before you read it again. Then find a critique group or some good beta readers to help with editing. If you want to be a published author, don't give up. Keep trying all the different doors, avenues, and windows until one finally opens. And most importantly - Believe in Yourself!

Great advice, and so true! What’s next for Linda Benson the author?

My next YA novel, called Six Degrees Of Lost, was just accepted by Musa Publishing for release in 2012. It's a contemporary story set in the Pacific Northwest, told in two alternating voices, a boy and a girl. And my current work-in-progress is a YA novel in verse.

Wow, sounds like you’ll be quite busy! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere in history, where would you go, and why?

Probably back in time to pioneer days. Although it would be difficult to accept the constraints on clothing, work, and women's roles, I would love to be able to experience the vastness and beauty of the western United States before it became populated and civilized.

The Girl Who Remembered Horses comes out on November 4th.

Monday 24 October 2011

The Joy of Purging

Something must be in the air. It’s infectious. It’s freeing. It’s exhausting. And I think it always happens around this time of year. I’m talking about purging. The dictionary defines purging as to cleanse or to rid of impurities, foreign matter, or undesirable elements. Yes, I would agree. Just open a junk drawer and you get the meaning loud and clear. Look at any tree with leaves, and they do it naturally. Purging gives you a clean slate, and a new way of looking at your life. It also makes room for new things and opportunities to come.

In order to grow and evolve, the old stuff must be purged to make way for the new and improved stuff. As an author, this is tough advice to take. I mean, getting rid of words I’ve written with my blood, sweat and tears? Killing my darlings? Cutting away those adverbs and adjectives? Stripping away the worthless scenes – even if you like them? Be still my beating heart! But in truth, this necessary cutting makes room for recovery, renewal, and a hell of a better book.

In the popular television show, ‘Hoarders’, those ill people fill up every nook and cranny until their space is ready to explode. Yet they know not what they have done. Their mindset does not allow them to purge. They are truly stuck. Learn from them, learn from their demons, and learn to purge the crap in your life. You’ll be thankful you did.

Some words of wisdom to help purge by: Die you gravy-sucking pig! Steve Martin, comedian

Thursday 20 October 2011

So Many Choices, So Little Time ...

Musa Publishing
Euterpe ~ Young Adult
I’ve got a dilemma. On October 21st, 2011 – tomorrow folks – Musa Publishing’s YA Imprint Euterpe debuts. My problem? I have as yet to purchase an ereader to download all these wonderful books I know that are coming down the virtual pipeline. I plan to ask Santa Claus for an ereader this Christmas, which takes off some of the pressure, but which brand do I need?

So, I hopped on my black shiny steed (read – computer), and I’ve journeyed to the different websites to peruse their wares, learnt many things, got my mind boggled with some, looked at all those lovely accessories that go with each unique ereader, and still I’m as confused as ever. Then – do I want to limit myself to one on-line store? Or go for a tablet that has social networking, downloading and email capability? Woe is me!

Now, on the cusp of Euterpe’s grand opening, with a new stable of authors selling their new books, I sit patiently and wait for a solution – that elusive ereader that will fit my lifestyle to a tee. So, my apologies go to – Arely Cole, author of The Blacksmith’s Daughter, Linda Benson, author of The Girl who Listened to Horses, and Stephanie Campbell, author of First Dragon – you’re all on my wish list for great books to download ASAP. Sigh.

The best advice I can ask is your advice. If you own an ereader, what brand of do you have, and why.

Monday 17 October 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Arley Cole

The Blacksmith's Daughter

Since this is my first author interview, I wanted to define what ‘being in the limelight’ means: "in the full glare of public attention.” So, it is with great privilege to shine the limelight on today’s guest author, Arley Cole whose book, The Blacksmith’s Daughter will be released through Musa Publishing on Friday, October 21st.

Sharon: How long have you been writing, Arley?

Arley: I wrote my first story in first grade. It was a play about Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I was also addicted to those pages they used to give us that had a blank space at the top for an illustration and lines at the bottom to write the story. I filled a world of those!!

Sharon: Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Blacksmith’s Daughter?
Arley: At the risk of sounding like Stephenie Meyer, I did indeed dream the first major scene of The Blacksmith's Daughter! But I dream a lot of stuff. I dreamed one night that I was going to blow up the Death Star but ran up on the food court where all my students (teaching college at the time) were working at the Chick-Fil-A to pay for school, so I had to get them off first. Then I blew up the Death Star. My dreams are legendary around our house!

Sharon: What sets The Blacksmith’s Daughter apart from other books in the same genre?
Arley: As far as the YA angle, I think it is different because it does not star young people. The protagonists are all in their late twenties/early thirties. However, they are all dealing with issues of finding out who they are and what their role is in their world. So I think that makes it appealing to a YA audience. Also, it contains both a fair amount of romance for the romance lovers and a fair amount of violence for the action lovers. Plus, the magical system in this book is not like anything I've run across lately. I have had a lot of fun developing it.

Sharon: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish The Blacksmith’s Daughter?
Arley: Well, when I finished the manuscript for The Blacksmith's Daughter I was not working full time, so it took about 6 weeks start to finish with a week off for Thanksgiving. Now I am a wage slave and it takes more time! I do spend time plotting while doing housework, especially ironing.

Sharon: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Arley: Write all you can. There are so many great places to post your work for feedback and review. Don't let your stuff just sit on your hard drive. Take a chance and let somebody read it. That's how you'll get better!

Sharon: What’s next for Arley Cole the author?
Arley: I sure would like to quit my day job!! Then I would have plenty of time to iron and write The Merchant's Son---sequel to The Blacksmith's Daughter---and finish my regency Little Season and work on several other projects I've got in the lineup. But right now, I want to get The Blacksmith's Daughter on everybody's e-reader!!!

Now that sounds like a plan! I want to thank Arley Cole for taking the time to answer a few questions about her new book, The Blacksmith’s Daughter. You can help Arley quit her day job by purchasing her e-book at your favorite on-line bookstore!

The Blacksmith’s Daughter - Musa Publishing, October 21st

The Blacksmith’s Daughter - Musa Publishing, October 21