Monday 27 February 2012

Become A Profiler

We’ve all heard it. Zero in on your target audience. Build your author platform according to who you’re writing for. Sage advice for sure. Books without identifiable potential readers do not sell. Let me repeat that. If you don’t have target market in mind—who you gonna call? To avoid creating a manuscript no one wants, successful writers consider who will read the fruits of their labors. They know their market, and that’s who they write for.

One of the most frequent mistakes made by beginner writers—a step above the writer who does not even bother to look at the publisher’s guidelines—is to assume that EVERYONE will enjoy what they write. You have to decide early on what posse you belong with. Pick your tribe, pick your team, pick where you roll.
A great first step toward knowing your readers is learning what they already like. Read what they read. Check book reviews. Go over the bestseller lists. What needs do these books fill? Who are the main characters? What emotions are dealt with in the story? Once done, you can find the parts that appeal to your strengths as a writer and your likes as a person, to make sure that your book is not just another version of a successful series, but rather a fresher, more vibrant work.

Probably the most important rule in writing is to know your readers, but do not become so obsessed with them that they interfere with your writing what you love. Let’s face it most of us start with ideas, not readers. Awareness is the key here. Perhaps the best way to start creating a reader profile is to start with your idea, and go through these series of questions: Who will this interest? Who will this help? Who needs to know this? Who wants to know this? Once you’ve answered those questions, you can start to identify the type of reader who will benefit.
And believe me, if your readers benefit, then you’ll benefit.

Image: Stock/123rf/2335933

Thursday 23 February 2012

Author in the Limelight: Alyssa Lilijequist

Deadly DeliriumI want to thank and welcome author, Alyssa Lilijequist for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, Deadly Delirium, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, and other on-line bookstores.

I understand that you were the winner of the first Euterpe Young Adult Writers contest, in which the theme was love. Congratulations! Would you share your writing process with us, Alyssa?
Thank you! My writing process varies depending on what project I'm working on. I'm actually taking an online writing college class right now and I have to write essays. I'll admit that I put more planning into those than when I write fiction (especially short stories). I like to start writing and see how they turn out. I do hope to get better at making flexible outlines for novels, though.

Please tell the readers a little about your story, Deadly Delirium.
Well, here's the "official" blurb: Though Johanna and her older brother, Karl, lost their parents to Nazi rule in Germany, they have not stopped standing up for their beliefs. Now Communism is in full force in East Germany and they have been imprisoned along with their friend, Franz, for their resistance efforts. Johanna falls ill and becomes delirious with fever. Is there anything that can be done or will Karl and Franz be forced to watch her slowly die? As her life literally flashes before her eyes, will Johanna have the strength-and desire-to survive?

In a nutshell, I wanted to write a story about love without it being mushy/romantic. It's not that there aren't some great books out there with romance in them but I wanted mine to be different.

Would you encourage others to enter similar writing contests like the one Euterpe held?
Yes! It's a great opportunity!

How did this contest affect you as a writer, Alyssa?
It has allowed me to see what goes into publishing an e-book and working with a publishing company. It also helped to boost my confidence in my own writing. There can be a lot of rejections when sending out articles, stories, etc. Every acceptance is special.

So what made you enter the contest in the first place?
It intrigued me that the winner's short story would be published as an e-book with royalties and everything! I hadn't seen that before.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring young writers?
Work hard. Don't give up. When someone says nice things about your work, savor those positive words and remember them when you receive rejection after rejection. Realize that constructive criticism is actually more valuable in the long run than positive comments. Be humble. Learn all that you can. You don't have to change everything that everyone criticizes but you should carefully consider each suggestion. Don't neglect to edit. Have fun!

Wow, such sage advice from someone still in her teens! I certainly could have used a pep talk from you when I first started to write!

What’s next for Alyssa Liljequist the author?
I would love to publish novels and perhaps a non-fiction book or two in the future. I hope at least some of my books end up in print with electronic versions as well, of course. I have two partial manuscripts that I'm working on. One is set during WWII and the other is set during the Civil War. The one set during the Civil War is about a Southern young lady who appears normal but is actually a spy. This novel is my longest work-in-progress. I started with the basic idea above when I was only around 14 years old. It has since seen a major overhaul but is still not finished. I'm currently trying to find an agent for my finished middle grade novel that is set during the Klondike Gold Rush. I just can't get away from historical fiction, it seems!

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?
Ooo, time travel is fun! I visited The Last Timekeepers' FB page and I think the series sounds really interesting! It's tough for me to choose just one time period...there are so many options :). I think it would be cool to travel back to the Revolutionary War era. That way I could talk with the founding fathers and know what they were really thinking and get their opinion on the political situations we're dealing with now. Getting to watch the Declaration of Independence being signed would be pretty amazing, too!

My blog:

(please mention Deadly Delirium/Euterpe when you add me)

My Twitter:

If any young writers out there are interested in entering the next Euterpe Young Adult Writers quarterly contest, simply click on this link to find out the details and rules:

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Guest Blogger S. G. Rogers: My New Best Friend Is...A Girl!

Today, I'm handing the writing reins over to YA fantasy author S. G. Rogers for my very first guest blog post. Enjoy!

In my newly released romantic fantasy The Magical Misperception of Meridian, a beautiful commoner and a stammering prince form a magical friendship that can survive almost anything—except the queen’s disapproval. 

Railing against convention in the kingdom of Meridian, Jona thinks a girl should be able to wear trousers, fight like a boy when necessary, and marry whomever she pleases.  She happens upon the queen’s nephew, Lee, who stammers and cannot speak to girls at all…that is, until he meets Jona.

 When the queen hires Jona to help her nephew acquire proper social graces, Jona experiences a blissful summer of pure enchantment.  Jona and Lee learn to dance, perfect the art of polite conversation, and discover which fork to use at the dinner table.  Although they become best friends, Queen Gaia considers Jona a mere servant.  At summer’s end, Jona’s job in Meridian is done.

Lee and Jona keep in contact through a set of magical mailboxes given to Lee by the Wizard Farland. When the friends are finally reunited after ten years, their budding romance is torn asunder by an edict from the queen.   Against impossible odds, Jona and Lee will fight for an uncertain future.  But unspoken secrets and mysteries long in the making have yet to be revealed. 
Will true love be denied…or can the differences between commoners and royalty be shown to be just a matter of magical misperception?


 Lee shrugged. “I never knew my parents. They died when I was a baby, I’m told.”

 “Um…do you like your aunt?”

 He shrank into his clothes. “She’s k-kind of scary, actually. I call her The D-Dragon.”

Jona peered at him. “We don’t have to talk about her if you don’t want to.” Fortunately, a pack of local kids was flocking their way. “Oh look, some of my schoolmates are here. Maybe we can think up a good game.”

Her friend, Fiona, was among the group. She eyed Lee with admiration and quickly pulled Jona to one side. “Who’s that boy? He’s gorgeous. Introduce me.”

Jona glanced at Lee. They’d been having so much fun, she hadn’t noticed he was handsome. Though it didn’t make much difference to her one way or the other, she supposed Fiona was right.

 “Lee, this is Fiona,” Jona said. “She sits next to me in school.”

“N-n-nice t-t-to m-m-meet you,” he said, barely managing to force the words out. His face flushed scarlet, almost as if he were having some kind of fit.

 When Jona’s friends laughed at Lee, her hackles began to rise. His obvious misery at their ridicule cut her to the core. Fiona’s giggles earned her a sharp elbow to the ribs.

“Stop it,” Jona whispered.

 Fiona composed herself, but the boys continued to mock Lee—especially the biggest one, Quinton.

“It’s not funny, Quinton,” Jona said.

 “S-s-sorry, J-j-jona,” he chortled. “I c-c-can’t s-s-stop m-m-myself.”

Any feeling of friendship she’d ever felt toward Quinton rapidly dwindled. “I’m warning you, Quinton. Shut your mouth,” she said, her knuckles showing white.

 “W-w-whatever you s-s-say.”

 Jona sank her fist into Quinton’s stomach. The other boys piled on, and an all out brawl ensued. The girls ran back to the celebration, screaming, while Jona and Lee fought the whole group of five boys together. Finally Mr. Pikerman came over and separated the children.

 “Fine behavior for the queen’s visit,” he scolded. “Be off, the lot of ye.”

 Quinton and his friends stumbled away to nurse an assortment of black eyes, sore ribs, and scraped skin. Jona and Lee were left standing there, their bosoms heaving with exertion and indignation. She bent to retrieve her cap, which had been knocked to the ground in the scuffle and her waist length braids tumbled over her shoulders. Lee stared at her, his mouth open.

 “What’s wrong?” she asked.

 “Well…you’re a girl!”

Can boys and girls be best friends?  You bet.  And that’s the most excellent kind of magic.

 ~ S.G. Rogers

The Magical Misperception of Meridian  is available from MuseItUp Publishing., and wherever online books are sold. To learn more about S.G. Rogers, visit her blog at

Monday 20 February 2012

And The I Love Musa Books Hop Winner Is ...

Congratulations to Eleni Konstantine, winner of the I LOVE MUSA BOOKS HOP! I want to thank everyone who participated in my very first blog hop! It was great fun, and a wonderful start to promoting my upcoming release, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS AND THE ARCH OF ATLANTIS, on May 18th.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

I Love Musa Books Hop!

Welcome, and thank you for stopping by on your tour around the I Love Musa Books Hop hosted by Musa Publishing.

I’m giving away an e-book copy of my debut novel series The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis during the week of my book launch, May 18, 2012 and a $10 Musa Publishing gift voucher so while you’re waiting for my ebook, you can buy an ebook in the genre of your choice.

Since I’m a YA author, I’d like to showcase a few ebooks I’ve read and enjoyed from Musa Publishing’s YA imprint Euterpe:

The Trouble with NightingaleThe Trouble With Nightingale by Amaleen Ison
When seventeen year old Millie Scrubbings moves to new digs on East London’s Nightingale Estate, she believes she’s finally closed the door on a childhood dictated by strangers. But overnight, her peaceful high-rise turns bonkers, and a series of grisly murders leaves Millie frightened and more helpless than ever.

Millie must accept her lead role in rescuing Nightingale from its descent into anarchy, or risk all Hell breaking loose.
Click here to buy.

Lost in the Bayou by Cornell DeVille

People disappear in the bayou. And that’s exactly what fourteen-year-old Robin Sherwood needs to do—before her Uncle Conrad snips her toes off with his rusty garden nippers. When her parents’ private plane disappears in the Voodoo Swamp, Robin’s uncle moves into the multi-million dollar Sherwood Estate as guardian. It doesn’t take Robin long to figure out there’s something not quite right about Uncle Conrad—besides having a metal claw where his left hand used to be.

Weird changes to crazy when he explains the bizarre game he has planned—a game that will leave Robin dead and Uncle Conrad the sole heir to the Sherwood fortune. In order to escape his devious plan and its deadly consequences, the bayou may be Robin’s only chance. It’s a risky choice, but becoming alligator bait seems a lot less terrifying right now than what’s waiting for her in the cellar.
Click here to buy.

The Girl Who Remembered HorsesThe Girl Who Remembers Horses by Linda Benson
Several generations into the future, Sahara travels with her clan in a barren environment where recyclables are bartered for sustenance, and few remember horses or their connection to humans. But Sahara has recurring visions of riding astride on magnificent animals that run like the wind.

With the help of Evan, a young herder from the Gardener's Camp, Sahara discovers a crumbling book containing pictures of humans riding horses and learns her visions are real. Confronting a group of hunters led by hot-headed Dojo, Sahara rescues a wounded horse, but the animal escapes before it can be tamed.

Sahara is labeled a foolish dreamer and almost gives up her quest. Following horse tracks into a remote ravine, she finds wild dogs attacking a dying mare, and must drive them off in order to save the foal. Now she must attempt to raise the young animal, finally convince her clan of the ancient bond between horses and humans, and learn the secret of her true identity.

Click here to buy.

How To Enter
To win my giveaway, all I ask is that you like my facebook page or like The Last Timekeepers Series facebook page, and leave a comment below with contact details to confirm your entry. Already following me on facebook? Just write a comment. If you’re really gun-ho, earn a second entry by subscribing to my blog. Easy-peasy.

That’s it! Good luck, and don’t forget to visit all the other blogs on the hop and enjoy more giveaway fun.

Terms & Conditions
1. This Blog Hop runs until midnight on February 19th and the draw will take place after that date.
2. The winner will chosen by lot (aka—name pulled from writer’s toque)
3. I will contact the winner via email and give the winner 72 hours to accept his/her prize.
4. Prize as stated—no alternatives will be offered.

To go back to the Blog Hop click here

Monday 13 February 2012

Authors in the Limelight: Samantha Combs

The Detention DemonI want to thank and welcome author, Samantha Combs for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, The Detention Demon, can be purchased from MusaPublishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

How long have you been writing, Samantha?
I’ve been writing my whole life, but I only got serious about it in 2010.  That’s the year I wrote Spellbound, in about 2 ½ months.  In the same year, I wrote Ghostly, and began Everspell.

 Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Detention Demon?
The Detention Demon was born of my son’s love of the Goosebumps series. I had written three books already and he complained he was too young to read them.  So I set out to write a book he could relate to.

What sets The Detention Demon apart from other books in the same genre?
What sets The Detention Demon apart in the middle grade fiction world is the fact that it’s a horror story.  With the exception of R.L.Stine, and his Goosebumps and Mostly Ghostly series, there aren’t many horror books for the middle grade.  My son wanted me to write a scary story, so I did.  It didn’t hurt that he had recently received a couple detention passes!  LOL

Well, necessity is the mother of invention!
As an author, Samantha, what is your writing process?

 My writing process has remained pretty much unchanged.  I get an idea, either from my kids, or something I see in passing on TV or at work or even on the way to work, then I jot notes in my iPhone.  Each time I get a new idea, I put it in there.  Once I write or tap it out, it’s in my head.  It marinates, then the seed, well, it becomes a flower. I’m happy that the ideas come all the time and currently, I have three manuscripts working.

How long did it take for you to start and finish The Detention Demon?
Writing The Detention Demon took very little time. By the time I was actually writing it, the whole story had nearly unfolded in my head.  I couldn’t write it fast enough.  It took three weeks.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Samantha?
I always give the same advice. Write when you feel it. I never force myself and don’t subscribe to the notion of making sure I write something every day.  I also follow my own rules, dance to my own song.  Sometimes, I write a scene that is bursting to be written and then write a novel around it!  I’m doing that right now.

Now that’s sage advice! What’s next for Samantha Combs the author?
The Detention Demon releases on Feb 10, 2012 and another YA paranormal novel is contracted to release in Sept. 2012.  This one is called Waterdancer and is about a teen girl who discovers her real, absentee father has recently returned to tell her he is part sea-creature, and she may be too.  And I’m currently working on a mean girl book, about a group of girls who have been possessed by the seven deadly sins.  Working title:  The Deadlies.

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?
Time travel is so fascinating to me! If I could travel back anytime, my answer would be here, in The United States, in the 1950’s. I love the clothes, the music, the manners. I loved that women wore gloves in public and men wore hats.  I love that it was a time of rejuvenation and experimentation. We had come out of a world war, battered but not broken, and were rebuilding our lives, our country, and our families, at break-neck speed. I would have loved to be a part of that wonder of discovery.

Samantha Combs is the author of YA witch fantasy Spellbound, which won the Global Ebook Award for Speculative Fiction-Fantasy, and the sequel, Everspell, YA para-ghost story, Ghostly, her first horror outing, Teeth and Talons, A Horror Anthology.  The Detention Demon, her middle grade horror, releases Feb 2012 and Waterdancer, an aquatic YA paranormal, will be available in Sept 2012.
If anyone would like to connect with her, check out her blog,, Twitter:!/samanthacombs1 and facebook page:  She loves to chat with new aspiring, and experienced authors.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Authors in the Limelight: Amaleen Ison

The Trouble with NightingaleI want to thank and welcome author, Amaleen Ison for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, The Trouble with Nightingale, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

Here’s a peek:   
When eighteen year old Millie Scrubbings moves to new digs on East London’s Nightingale Estate, she believes she’s finally closed the door on a childhood dictated by strangers. But overnight, her peaceful high-rise turns bonkers, and a series of grisly murders leaves Millie frightened and more helpless than ever.

Millie must accept her lead role in rescuing Nightingale from its descent into anarchy, or risk all Hell breaking loose.
How long have you been writing, Amaleen?

I discovered writing while on maternity leave. Though I adored looking after my daughter, I longed for something to occupy my mind. I’m the type of person who needs a project. One day I flipped open the lid of my laptop, opened a word document, and started writing. One paragraph became two, and soon I’d typed the first chapter of a novel. I haven’t stopped writing since.
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Trouble with Nightingale?

I used a prompt from an anthology call to create The Trouble with Nightingale. When finished, my tale exceeded the publisher’s maximum word count, and the story had evolved into something different than the original premise. So I looked for other markets to send my manuscript and found Musa Publishing.
What sets The Trouble with Nightingale apart from other books in the same genre?

The Trouble with Nightingale is dark and witty, the characters unexpected. None of them are what they seem. Animals play a huge role, but it’s difficult to say more without spoiling the plot. Also, to my knowledge, the setting is unique. I’m not aware of any other urban fantasy story set in an East London high-rise. In fact the location is so important, I named the book after the block of flats my MC lives in.
As an author, Amaleen, what is your writing process?

It changes. As I learn, I apply different techniques. I’ve tried plotting and pantsing, but generally I need to do a bit of both. The only constant is a steaming mug of tea. If I didn’t have my beverage of choice sitting beside my laptop, I’m not sure I’d be able to write a word.
How long did it take for you to start and finish The Trouble with Nightingale?

Nightingale only took a few weeks to complete. I wrote most of it in my garden last July. Something about fresh air, nature, and sweet summer sunshine set my muse into overdrive.
Do you have any advice for other writers, Amaleen?

Don’t write in a vacuum. You need to read vicariously, gain feedback on your writing, and if possible critique the work of other authors.
The best thing I ever did for my writing was join an on-line critiquing site. Gaining constructive feedback and learning to spot issues in a manuscript raised my game. Not only that, I met some wonderful writing friends. We continue to support one another as we move towards publication and beyond.  We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.

That’s great advice, since most writers tend to be solitary creatures. So, what’s next for Amaleen Ison the author?
I have a YA urban fantasy novel to finish. In the words of my good writing buddy, Ruth Lauren Steven, it is my ‘training bra novel’. I used The Downlands (working title) to learn to write. The novel has evolved with my writing skill, so it’s in a huge mess. I plan to tear the manuscript apart and rebuild it. Hopefully The Downlands will emerge bright and shiny.

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?
If I could ensure my safety and return journey—I have heaps of commitments so dying or getting injured isn’t an option—I’d love to travel back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. Ever since my mum took me to visit the Natural History Museum when I was seven, I’ve had a fascination with the ginormous monsters. I cried when I watched Jurassic Park for the first time. No, really! That moment when the camera pans to show the Brachiosaurus took my breath away.

My five-year-old daughter has caught my dinosaur bug. Every opportunity, she hounds me to take her to the Natural History Museum to see the animatronic model of T-Rex. The museum has explorer packs for children– a backpack filled with a hat, binoculars, and other goodies. Armed with the exploring essentials, we stalk the exhibits and pretend we’re tracking real dinosaurs.


Twitter @AmaleenIson

Monday 6 February 2012

What is CHAMPS about?

Euterpe ~ YA Imprint by Musa PublishingHey, everyone! I'm guest blogging over at the Euterpe blogspot today. Euterpe is Musa Publishing's Young Adult imprint. Today's topic is "Spotlight on Teens". If you have a moment, I'd love you click on the link below, and find out about this wonder program called CHAMPS that  the War Amps of Canada have set up for child amputees and their families.

Thank you, and have a great day!

Thursday 2 February 2012

Groundhog Day - Meet My Shadow

Okay, this post doesn’t have anything to do with writing tips, my book, or any of my feature posts. But it’s my birthday, so I’ll write what I want to. Yup. You heard me, the same day dear mother gave birth to me is the same day I share with a large rodent who thinks it’s a weather forecaster. The funny thing is, my father was a meteorologist. Stop laughing, it’s true. So for today’s post, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the furry creature that tells us when winter ends, and when spring begins—give or take six weeks.

The origin of Groundhog Day has roots that go deep. It’s considered a holiday to the Wiccan faith—a Sabbat, and something to celebrate. Only, Wiccans call this day Candlemas or Imbolc (pronounced IM-bolk). This is a time to celebrate the renewing fertility of the Earth—“a fire in the belly” time. There is a feeling in the air of the coming spring, but a certain restlessness or cabin fever sets in. It’s no coincidence that many people celebrate Groundhog Day on this date. The idea is that Nature (in the form of Mr. Groundhog) reassures us that spring will indeed come.
German tradition holds that if the sun comes out on Candlemas, the precursor to Groundhog Day, the hedgehog (or badger) will see its shadow and six more weeks of winter will follow. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania they continued this tradition, using groundhogs instead of hedgehogs to predict the weather. Go figure. The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the tradition continues to be a thriving business for the town.

In the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, Bill Murray stars as a frustrated weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over again. He’s stuck in time and can’t break out. So he adapts, or so he thinks. If you haven’t seen this gem, then I urge you to check it out. You may find yourself watching it over and over again.

I’ll leave you with old English song: If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.