Friday, August 31, 2012

Let It Suck

After taking a break from the work-in-progress over the summer, I dived back in when the kids started school. It didn't take long to realize that much of what I had written and am now writing is absolutely atrocious.

Self-Doubt took that as its cue to get a jab at me: Who are you kidding? This is utter crap. How do you expect anyone to read something that sucks so bad?

A few times, I've been tempted to curl up into a ball and accept the jerk's abuse, but I've decided to shove him out the door, change the locks, and get on with my story. I've decided that it's OK to let it suck.

You see, I think the weak moments came about because I am still coming off the high of getting my second book, Serenya's Song, polished up and sent on her merry way. I'm still basking in the glow of wonderful reviews that attest to THAT book not sucking. It seems I forgot somewhere along the way that it took me a good year and approximately 287 drafts to ensure Serenya's Song didn't suck.

I certainly don't claim that any of my work is literary genius or worthy of Pulitzer Prizes or A Nobel Prize for Happy Endings, but by the time I finished with each of my first two books, I knew I'd done my best, that neither of them sucked. In fact, according to their readers, they were at the very least "pretty good."

Hearts In Exile is a work-in-progress, still in early draft stage. I have an outline, yet the plot is still working itself out. I'm still getting better acquainted with the characters, finding their voices along the way, discovering their quirks, faults, and strengths. And the quality is going to suck for a while, until I get all the major stuff ironed out, like a cohesive storyline & character roles.

Passive voice is running rampant, with enough "was"s, "were"s, and "had"s to choke a horse. Characters are either behaving like drama queens or are as one-dimensional as a napkin. My critique partners are slowly going bald as they work through each chapter. Lindsey, I'm certain, will be completely without eyebrows by the time we're finished.

Yet, I will trudge on, because I look back now on when I first started this series in 2009 and remember all the blood, sweat, and tears I shed on behalf of these stories.

Self-Doubt smacks on the patio door glass and yells: You don't have another book in you!

I yell back, "Watch me!" and shut the blinds, because I really don't want that jerk watching me at all.


Q&A time: In what areas to YOU need to kick Self-Doubt to the curb?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Interview with Author Donna L. Sadd

Bio:  Donna Louise Sadd was born and raised in New York, spent 16 years in S. Florida and now has three years under her belt in beautiful Central Texas Hill Country. 
Words have been her life.  Ms. Sadd was a copywriter and moved up to assistant to the president of a New York advertising agency, then spent decades marketing her small businesses and those of others using well-crafted words.

Ms. Sadd originally got the idea of writing her first children's book while spending time with her young nieces one day.
They wondered why her newly-adopted little dachshund Lucci (pronounced loochy) never gave smoochies, and she started rhyming verses while sketching the beginning pages of the children's picture book, LUCCI THE NO SMOOCHIE POOCHIE. They had a ball, and Donna later finished the story and illustrations for her family, and had the book printed and bound just as it is available now on her website. 
LUCCI- THE NO SMOOCHIE POOCHIE is a cute little story that the kids in your life will enjoy. Thanks for taking the time to read it!
Please give a warm welcome Donna L. Sadd on her first visit to Unwritten! She won this interview on one of the 20,000TH Hit Giveaway Events. Donna was so very generous to offer up a few copies of her book to the giveaway. You might find a copy or two left over there, so go grab one:  

Ms. Sadd, can you tell us more about the real Lucci and what you do when you're not writing cute children's books?

Lucci was such a good little boy. He was only about a year or two old when we adopted him and his tiny sister Zoe. He was my staunchest supporter and could always be found right by my side. Like a true dachshund, he protected me fiercely. He lived a long life full of love, adventures and plenty of smoochies.

When I’m not writing children’s stories, one can find me tending to my burgeoning clan of now 10 animal family members, taking part in writing challenges to improve my skills, and building my authors ‘platform.’ As a new author, the latter activity takes up much of my time. I just adopted another rescue dog and every morning he and the other 3 dogs accompany me on my ‘farm’ chores cleaning up after and walking my three beautiful pet goats, Daisy, Dixie and Dot, down to the valley where they browse and everyone else runs and plays. My story ideas run wild in the valley as well.

Have you published any other books, and/or do you have anything else in the works?

LUCCI is my first published book and I have been hard at work on another picture book called FARLEY HORSE©; it’s a story about a pig!

Have you written or do you plan on writing in other genres besides children's?

My old-time love is poetry, Haiku especially. I love words and one has to find perfect words to construct a powerful haiku poem. I recently got an absolutely wonderful idea for a YA chapter book and am doing research and working on the outline now. I’m so excited about it I can hardly sit still! 

Self-publishing is becoming more popular by the minute. Did you consider or try traditional publishing first? Will you try to publish through a publishing house in the future, or do you think you'll stick with the indie route?

I did not consider traditional publishing first for LUCCI, and fell into self-publishing quite by fate. My mother passed away last year and I found myself at a crossroad. One day while reminiscing over a box of my mom’s possessions, I found the bound copy of LUCCI that I had gifted her. She had constantly prodded me to publish it, so I did just that-for her.

I certainly would try the traditional publishing route for my YA chapter book as I believe the story, if I write it well, will be gobbled up by the masses and having a publisher market and distribute one’s book certainly helps. Yet, having the freeing feeling of knowing I can offer it myself unbinds me of having to worry about any story that I write ever having to sit on a shelf unread.

You may have heard rumors, but I subject all my interviewees to a most terrible random question. This is yours: What was the first pet you remember from your childhood?

The first pet I had as a child was a silver toy poodle that my parents gave me after I had my tonsils out when I was 5. Her name was Tippy.

Ms. Sadd, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of your work?

 Pg. 13
“He would wrangle, and twist and grumble when kissed.”
Pg. 14
“But we kept giving him smoochies. We would persist!  
Pg. 15
 “Not one day would go by. Not one day would be missed. Our little Lucci would be kissed and kissed.”

Thank you so much for allowing me to interrogate you, Donna! I wish you much success and hope you can return.

It was quite painless Mysti; thank you for interviewing me. I am grateful to have been a part of your fantastic 20,000 Hits Celebration Giveaway, and I’m sure your next 20,000 hits will happen in no time. Much success to you as well Mysti!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Next Best Thing Blog Hop

I just love the cover, don't you?

The Next Big Thing Week 10: Hearts in Exile (Book Three of the Tallenmere Series)

Thanks to Ruth J. Hartman of RJ Writes for tagging me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? It's like a game of virtual tag. I get to answer ten questions about my Work In Progress and tag 5 other authors for next week.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1.      What is the working title of your book?
       Hearts in Exile, Book Three of the Tallenmere fantasy romance series.

2.     Where did the idea come from for the book?
       The goal for this series is to incorporate one fairly major character from a previous book into the next book in the series. In this case, the honor fell to Sir Robert (Igrorio) Everlyn, a high-elf paladin who played a prominent role in Book Two, Serenya's Song.

3.     What genre does your book fall under?
       Romance, sub-genre fantasy

4.     Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
      Chris Hemsworth would make one fine Sir Robert, while Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica from 'True Blood') would make the perfect Loralee Munroviel, Sir Robert's love interest.

5.     What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
      After a fateful storm, two lovers reunite and discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.

6.     Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
       It'll be published with a small press, Melange Books.

7.     How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
       I'm still writing the first draft, so we'll see. I've averaged a year with the first two, so I anticipate at least that long.

8.     What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
       I hesitate to compare my books to any others, not because they're so unique or grand or anything delusional like that, but because I write what I write and try not to imitate other authors. If you had to make a comparison, think Mercedes Lackey meets J.R.R. Tolkien. What a match, huh?

9.     Who or What inspired you to write this book?
       The need to continue this series! Hee hee. Actually, I've had this story (in a shorter form) around for a long while and wanted to give these characters an adventure worthy of telling, and an unforgettable love story.

10.  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
       One word: Dragons!

Now I get to tag 5 hapless victims participants. I've picked these lucky souls:

1. Olivia Ritch
2. Nell DuVall
3. Jody Vitek
4. Dan Spanton
5. Stan Hampton, Sr.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An Interview with Thomas J Marshall

Connect with TJ on Facebook!
I met Thomas J (TJ) Marshall in 2011, through F2K, a free six-week writing course sponsored by Writer's Village University. Since then, we've become Facebook buddies and swapped critiques at the Flash Dance Group on Writer's Village (WVU)--that's flash fiction (short stories up to 1000 words), in case you got all hot and bothered. As part of my 20K Hit Giveaway events, he won this interview!

Welcome to Unwritten, TJ! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do besides writing?

Thank you, Mysti for giving me this great opportunity. I’ve never been on a blog before.  I am a career Soldier currently stationed in Ft Hood TX.  I have two grown children; my son who is also in the Army and my daughter who moved out to to start her own life just this last spring.  I also have two adorable little girls, ages 9 and 13. They are my life. Other than writing, I make custom dream catchers. 

I've heard you are very close to finishing the first draft of your first novel. Can you give us any details about it?

Sure no problem. It is cool… Oh, you want more, ok. Well, it is a fantasy adventure novel about Jacob Moore, also known by most as Feather.  This story, called The Chosen One, is the first in The Finder’s Tome trilogy.  In The Chosen One, Feather, a turnip farmer’s son, is discovered to be the only one who can read from a magical book called The Finder’s Tome.  Because of this, he is thrown into an adventure, somewhat against his will, which will take him to the far reaches of FourPosts. In this book he encounters banshees, a dark wizard and a talking raccoon creature among other things. 

When did you start writing, and what inspired you to do it?

I started writing last January when I learned of F2K.  I heard about it through a friend, so I figured, since it was free, there was nothing to lose.  What I found was a love for writing and have been doing so ever since.  I know, not very long. Stop judging. ;)

Who and what are your favorite authors and genres?

Oh, my god, I have so many of them.  Well the first author I really loved was JRR Tolkien. His book The Hobbit was the first full size novel I read and gave me a love for fantasy. I also love Dean Koontz and Stephen King in the horror genre. And for fun and humor, I really love Douglas Adams.

Tell us about your experiences at F2K and WVU. Pros? Cons? Any classes there you'd recommend?

"Feather" by TJ Marshall

I had a great time in F2K.  I used the lessons there to develop my character Feather.  I made the e-zine for three of the six lessons, one of which I was the winner for my class. My experiences in F2K clenched my decision to join WVU.  I really enjoyed interacting with the other authors and didn’t want it to end.  In WVU, I have only found one con.  It is really easy to get overwhelmed. They have so many wonderful classes, I wanted to take them all. By far the favorite class I have taken is the one I am currently in; The Mythic Structure course.  By taking this course, I have been able to outline my story and make it a reality.

The publishing industry is going through some growing pains right now, with the rise in self-publishing and the e-book phenomenon. Have you decided yet what route (in terms of traditional or indie publishing) to pursue with your novel, and if so, why?

I am planning on self-publishing this first trilogy.  By time it is done, I should be a big-time author and have publishing firms pounding my door down.  At least that’s the plan (hee hee). But seriously I chose this route, because although it would be nice to make a million selling my books, I know that isn’t realistic.  I have to get my name and work known first and the easiest way to do that is with self-publishing.

Like most of us writers, you've submitted stories to have them rejected. How do you handle rejection? Does it spur you on or knock some wind from your sails?

I don’t mind rejection letters.  The first flash fiction story I submitted was Run-in with the Beast, a funny tale of two old friends talking about an encounter with Bigfoot.  I received two rejection letters so far for that story.  They are printed out, framed and hanging on my wall next to the original version of the story.  I view the letters as a way to grow and learn.  Although the letters didn’t say much, they both told me something I didn’t know before.

Fairy Dreamcatcher
by TJ Marshall
Sing with me: It's random question time, it's random question time! Do the samba, don't slap your mama, it's random question time! You've been tasked with burying a time capsule to represent life in 2012, but it's only the size of a breadbox. What would you put in it?

Hmm, that’s quite an interesting question.  I would say I would put an Ipad or Kindle in it and a cell phone. I would fill them full of the popular applications. In this age of technology, I think these items really represent a big part of the culture of today.  Everything is digital and everyone is connected by technology.

Finally, Mr. Marshall, do you have any excerpts you'd like to share?

Sure, I would love to. In this scene Feather just learned he is the only one who can read the Finder’s Tome and is trying to figure it out. I hope you all enjoy it.

                The corner of the first page rolled up as if an unseen hand tried to turn it but Feather’s thumb held it in place.  He moved his thumb and the page flipped to rest on the front cover.  Then another did the same, only faster this time. Then another and another.  Each time a page turned, it increased speed.  The pages eventually moved so fast, Feather was able to feel a slight breeze against his cheek.  
          Please show me where I can find Mandrake’s Key, Feather thought. 
          The pages stopped midway through the book.  Feather saw a white light appear in the crease where the binding was.  The light increased until Feather couldn’t see anything beyond it. 
          A voice, soft and gentle, yet masculine, spoke in Feather’s mind.  He recognized the voice as his own. 
Amongst the wastelands the Key doth hide,
And sits upon its throne.
A shadowy tomb carved from North’s tide,
Where the Eagle’s flag is flown. 
          As it spoke, a landscape appeared around him. He was suspended above a desert by a dark blue sea.  He saw the desert ended in cliffs taller than Feather imagined possible.  Carved into the cliff were two goliath-size eagles with wings spread.  The tips of their wings touched and the eagles looked out toward the sea.  
But if thy manage to find the Key
Touch not, you now are warned.
For in the rainbow you’ll surely be,
And thy mission will be scorned. 
          With the last word, the light disappeared and Feather found himself back in the room with Geoffrey and Dillon. The old man squinted and leaned forward as if examining Feather. Dillon was on all fours, back arched, teeth barred and tail straight up. 
          “Where did you go, son?” Geoffrey asked after a moment. 
          “I’ve been where the key is.” 

It was a pleasure hosting you on Unwritten today! I hope you'll be back, and I wish you the best of luck!

Thank you Mysti for having me.  I had a great time!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Interview with author Red Tash

Bio: Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y’all come, anytime.

Please welcome fellow Kentucky-born author Red Tash to Unwritten! Take a load off, sip some sweet tea, and kick off your flip-flops, Red. Give us the scoop on the woman behind the screen. Where are you from and what do you do when you're not a "teller of tales"?

I am from Southern Indiana, born in Louisville.  I've lived on both sides of the river & thusly consider myself "bilingual."  I grew up in Sellersburg, IN & live in New Albany for the moment.  When I'm not telling tales, I'm homeschooling three ninjas and wrestling one monkey:  I used to write a newspaper column in the local papers that was syndicated nationally, called Guerilla Mothering, under my real (former) name.  The bigger the kids get (and the more I have, hello!) the harder it is to keep with all *I* want to do, so pretty much, either I'm trying to fit in some quality time with my husband, the coolest guy in the world, I'm being a mom, or I'm writing.  And that's more work than I can handle right now!

Red was so generous to offer some copies of her latest release, Troll or Derby to my 20,000th Hit Giveaway. The blurb goes something like this:
Buy it HERE!
In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she's grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?
This book explores a fantastically chaotic, and rockin', world of roller derbies, so I have to ask...have you ever participated in a roller derby league, and how did you come up with that idea?

I did.  I was Tyra Durden of the Derby City Rollergirls here in Louisville, KY, and of TeamMILF at RollerCon 2008  The league was still rather young and there weren't any B team opportunities at the time, so I was basically a punching bag on skates for the younger, more athletic players, but it was a lot of fun.  I'd never been obsessed with a sport before.  Dance?  Yes.  Theatre?  Yes.  Writing?  Of course.  But never a sport.  Falling in love with roller derby was a more passionate experience than most in my life, with the exception of meeting all four of my children and falling in love with my husband.  Roller derby simply takes over your life.  NO ONE plays it casually.  It's impossible to do.  So, as addictive as it, was naturally it took over my work-in-progress at the time, which had started as simply a girl-meets-troll story.  It quickly turned into much, much more.  The girl turned into a fairy, the roller derby was put together by an evil troll drug dealer, and it really took on a life of its own from there.

Tell us a little about your first novel, This Brilliant Darkness. 

It's hard to tell just a little about it, but here's the intro to the excerpt:

This Brilliant Darkness is a dark fantasy, and my first novel.  It was released on in September 2011, where it climbed the Dark Fantasy charts, eventually breaking the Top 20 for sales, and remaining in the Top 10 for Top-rated Dark Fantasy as of this writing.

It's kind of a weird little book, but I'm quite satisfied with it.  Part poetry, part horror, part science fiction, all karmic headtrip and 100% fast-fast-fast, it took me seven years to build it up and tear it down.  
It's a difficult work to pull excerpts from, because you move so quickly as a reader from character to character, diving head-first toward the climax from page one.  Still, here's a bit I managed to share one Sample Sunday last fall.  Hopefully you'll enjoy this peak inside the mind of our designated "baddie," the ageless monster Greachin.  (If  not, you might give it a try, anyway--maybe one of the other characters will ring your bell.)
In this sample, Greachin is still in a very young host body that he’s tailor-making to scare the wits out of our hapless heroine, Christine Grace.
Buy it HERE!
     It was a matter of hours before he could take flight into the darkness, on the hunt for the woman. He could manage a few miles, if he stopped to rest on the way. A few miles were all he needed.
     The woman’s pulse was calling him, but not from these woods. He’d found her scent in this locale, but except for his finding a host, it had been a dead end.
     Well, she’d found a dead end, too, hadn’t she?     A smile flickered across his dimpled cheeks, and faded as he turned his head in the direction of his target’s beating heart.
     Christine Grace had been here, definitely, but this was not her forest.
     He closed his eyes, tilting his crested head to one leathery shoulder. He could hear the rattle of branches in a canopy across the nearby town. He was on the outskirts and she waited in the center, radiating a signal that burned in him, impossible to ignore.
     Her ruah beat upward and out, into the woods, her scent wrapping languidly around her own trees, then carried to him on the breeze.
     Greachin hummed, unconsciously leaning into the direction of her spirit, as the woman walked briskly across a hard paved path. His ruah flapped enormous wings high above her, then dove.
     Too soon. Not yet.     His small physical eyes opened, and he wrenched himself upright. He had gone too far, too fast into the scent, into the pulse. He wrapped his chubby baby legs around the branch of the ash.
    An insect bored into the trunk, and Greachin leaned forward, pawing at the emerald green bug with his tender talons.
     Hunger. Torture.     Eating was a trick. Greachin leaned forward on the branch, his supple lips sucking the insect’s spindly body into his mouth, raking the exoskeleton across his burning gums. His pointed teeth strained to burst through blackening flesh.
     Distasteful mealTeething, too. The scare had better be worth it.     Greachin mused over the power of fear as he munched another emerald ash borer.
     And eating.     The humans seemed to love eating, making great rituals out of it, but Greachin had never understood their celebrations. Meals, hugging, kissing, shaking hands—and the mating. Oh, what a ritual surprise that was. The fruitless mating.

Debates are raging online (as they tend to do) over self-publishing (indie) vs. traditional publication. If I'm not mistaken, you are an indie author. What made you decide to go that route?

I was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.  I was accustomed to seeing my name plastered across a lot of newspapers, and thusly, getting feedback on my columns from readers all over the country.  I did the query-go-round and the conference circuit just like everyone else, but at this point in time, I see little reason to continue that route.  1.) Agents and publishers have become even more selective, and there's more competition than ever to reach them 2.) The benefits of an advance + marketing push are shrinking 3.) I'm not bad at marketing 4.) Most editors and cover designers don't have as much experience with writing/editing/page design as I do and 5.) I wanted to hear from my readers before I was too old to enjoy the benefits of having built a career around pleasing them.  Frankly, I love hearing what they love about my work.  It pushes me to do more.  Again, I was spoiled by having success as a newspaper girl, and before that, a blogger.  After a decade of having people log in every day to hear what I had to say, it was kind of unimaginable that I'd start all over again submitting and querying and submitting and querying and die an unheard voice on the fiction landscape--that's where my heart is, it's where my dream takes wings and flies, it's what I LOVE!  

I don't like being tarred with the same brush as the goofs who bash out a bunch of badly-written crap and then hit "submit," but in my experience, that kind of stuff doesn't get tons of exposure, anyway.  There are a sea of talented indies out there and I am most definitely not ashamed to be among them.  

Would I still like a big advance and a three-book deal?  OF COURSE!  But the longer the traditional publishers sit back waiting to see if I'm a worthwhile bet or not, the bigger that advance requirement becomes, because every month my sales and my reach grow.  Especially since releasing Troll Or Derby in June.  

Random question comin' at ya! What did you eat for lunch today, and would you recommend it to our readers?

Some badly-burned quesadillas, actually.  And, no.  Def. would not recommend!  But it has been a busy day and I'll scarf down whatever at this point.

My humblest thanks from one Southern girl to another. May your books sell like hotcakes and your sweet tea hold up a spoon!

Amen, girl!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rrrrr You a Pirate?

"Rrr ya sayin' I'm not entitled to free books?"
"Damn right. Savvy?"
This week's proven interesting in several bookish debates. One of which occurred when I received a Google Alert about A Ranger's Tale. Someone had asked for it on a forum that hosts e-book sharing. After doing a bit of searching, it appears the site once hosted actual book files, but now only facilitates sharing between site members.

A few more threads from their moderators suggest how wholeheartedly they feel their methods are justified, even going so far as to claim that the extra exposure of proliferating e-book sharing will help authors in the end, lead to more sales, and get this...even movie deals.


And e-book sharing is not pirating, they say, because no one's making actual money from the trade. In fact, they're very supportive of authors and want to facilitate author/reader connection. 


If that is the case, then why did the person requesting an illegal copy of A Ranger's Tale (or the site administrators) not contact ME directly? Or the countless other authors whose work they're sharing with all the sad souls who can't afford books (in support, of course)?

Here's my message to them, since they never bothered to contact me:

If you were to take a poll of the readers/reviewers of my work, I guarantee the vast majority received a free copy from me either in return for a review or as part of a giveaway. My books are not locked in some holy Ark of the Covenant which only the richest reader can access. From my own experience, most up-and-coming authors are more than happy to communicate with readers. If they're not running free downloads on Amazon, they are regularly offering up their books through giveaways and giving out review copies if you request one. 

Book sharing sites like these may not be selling pirated copies, but by allowing others to share unlimited e-copies of any author's work, without the express consent of said author, are perpetrating the illegal trade of copyrighted work. I'm sure there are authors there who regularly interact with the members there, but I am not one of those, and to see a request for my book pop up there is surprising and annoying, considering how easy it is to contact me online.

Many authors argue that every instance of file sharing is another lost sale. In my (and in most writers') cases, we're NOT reaping huge profits from our work. But, the point is, we have a right to control the distribution of our work. And yes, writing IS work. Most books take months, years, or even decades to be completed, so we deserve to see something come out of it, even if it's simply a review from a book we've given out for FREE. When you facilitate or participate in e-book sharing on sites such as this, you're disrespecting that author's time and efforts.

"How's about a free book? No one
needs to know...."
The argument was also posed that one can share a print copy with no repercussions, so why not-ebooks? Sure, it's easy as pie to email a file. No postage necessary. You don't even have to meet in some dark alleyway. But, you see, when you share a print copy, unless you've snatched it from your local library or a bookstore, SOMEONE has purchased it. The author has been compensated for that copy. Pass it around to your neighbors and weird aunts for all we care. In fact, I welcome that sort of sharing. You can even share a purchased (or rightfully obtained free) e-copy, if you have an e-reader, and hand it over to your daughter to read--that's great! 

But, as soon as you duplicate that e-copy and start sending it out to people without the author's consent, you've crossed the line. 

The way I see it, if you cannot afford to buy a legitimate copy of a book, you have a few options. Take notes if you need to:
  1. Borrow a print copy from a friend. Many libraries even have e-book lending now!
  2. Borrow a copy from the library.
  3. Search Google for your favorite author or book, find his/her blog/Facebook page/Twitter, etc and see when they'll be hosting their next giveaway.
  4. Contact the author you're interested in by email (you can contact me via the contact tab at the top of my website or via any of my social media buttons at the bottom of my website) and ask them for a review copy. And you know what? Writing a review really isn't that hard. You can even ask me how if you're not sure. I'm kinda nice like that. I enjoy helping people, as do most writers.
  5. Last but not least, and this one is hard to swallow for our "I have a right to something for nothing" society, DO WITHOUT. Seriously, most people, if they can't afford a car, don't go to a car lot and just drive off with a new Honda, while asking, "How else am I going to get one?" They walk, or ride a bicycle, or take the bus, or carpool....get my drift? 
Let me end with a story from my childhood. Growing up, we were poor. My parents could barely keep a roof over our heads. And I LOVED to read, particularly during the summer when I didn't have a thing to do because they couldn't afford to send me to camp or take vacations. Granted, we didn't have e-books back then, but you know what my mom did? She called our county library and asked for the Bookmobile to come to my house. Every week, I could barely contain myself when that blue and white truck pulled up in our drive. And the driver knew what I liked, so he kept my favorite books stocked. I read just about every book that Victoria Holt wrote that way and returned them so others could enjoy them, too. 

There was MY option. Now, in our digital age, finding a book to read is easier than ever. Yet, we don't have to resort to stealing them in order to enjoy our favorite authors. Most of us are just a click away. We love and cherish our readers, for without you, we'd just be writing for ourselves. Taking our books without our permission and without involving us in any way means that's what we're reduced to--just writing for ourselves. 

And what's the point of that?

Friday, August 17, 2012

An Interview With Author John Steiner, Take 2.5

Please welcome fellow Melange author John Steiner back to Unwritten. I first had him here for an interview in November, 2011. He was back later that month in a collaborative interview with the authors of Spellbound 2011. Hence, the designation of 2.5 in today's post. Those were so fun, I thought I'd have him back again.

Bio: John Steiner earned his Associate of Biology at Salt Lake Community College, where he is currently working as a tutor in math and chemistry. He exercises an avid interest in history, science, philosophy, mythology, martial arts as well as military tactics and technology.

Mr. Steiner, please pull up a seat and tell us how life's been since last November. What have you been doing besides writing?

Literally fighting City Hall, and I have the letter to the editor and original long draft thereof, if that's of interest to your readers. Also, we're gearing up for the release of the third Squad V book, Barer of the Ghost Nation.

Buy it HERE!
The first time you were here, you'd just published the first book in your Squad V series. Since then, you've published the second, and the third is just around the corner. What's been the reader reaction so far to your series?

By far, the response has been how much they like the character Vance, the 19th century lawyer, turned vigilante outlaw, turned vampire. Also, it's been reviewed in a college paper, the SLCC Globe. It was described as the seamless fusion of Anne Rice and Tom Clancy, which the reviewer told me he hadn't thought that was possible before I came along.

When can we expect Book Three, and can you tell us a little about it? From the cover, it looks like Native American lore might be involved. Am I right?

Some of the themes from the first two novels spill into Barer of the Ghost Nation, but this time the vampire metaphor was my way of describing a cultural conundrum for American Indian nations. The main Character is Wannuikaga- that pronunciation takes a little work, who is the sole survivor of a Mound Builder civilization in the Mississippi Valley. At first it's disease that swept through the region and decimating the people, but then three vampires come through and feed off the survivors. Wanniukaga was accidentally infected and has the misfortune of living through the death of his people and the centuries that follow. Because of this he has multiple personality disorder and interprets that as having to carry the ghosts of his people. It was a way to describe how American Indian peoples struggle to preserve their traditions and still adopt to today's world that their ancestors would see as post-apocalyptic.

Are you planning more books for the series, and are there any other books of other genres in the works?

Buy Book 2 HERE!
There is a fourth book that I have a loose outline for, which will take the series in a new direction. I've wrapped up The Locust Effect, a horror/suspense novel about sociopathic swarm logic in people. Prior to that was Fire Alive!, which is about firefighters in 2026, and is slated for release a little after Barer of the Ghost Nation. I'm currently working on Bridging the Lotus, which is a spaceflight novel based on a dream I had. Also, I'll take an entirely new take on vampires in a book called Dead Run. I want to make readers fear vampires like never before!

Because I've been having a spaceflight jones so bad, I started a series of spaceflight short stories called Flipspace, which centers on a NATO airforce crew of a military spaceship in 2175. I've completely two of these, and I'm awaiting feedback from a test audience. If any of your readers are interested in joining in I welcome the chance to reveal the creative process with those two installments.

Now that you've been in the writing business for a while, has anything surprised you (good or bad) about the process from draft to marketing?

The interpretation of your lines has been the biggest. Something that reads well to me might completely throw an editor for a loop, and on rare occasion the suggested replacement strikes me as not making sense or completely erases my intent. I'm learning that something I devise to add artistic value to the language might not always been called for, and I'm often reminded to work toward the tenth grade reading level. That I'm a huge science geek creates issues with readers who might not want to run to a dictionary or for every scientific idea posed in my stories. Another thing is- and this might shock budding authors, your work doesn't magically blast off a launch pad into the higher orbits of book sales numbers. I used to think the hard was getting published. That's a lot of phone calls and emails to distributors, to reviewers and anyone else needed to grow awareness of your work.

Buy it Here!
There's been an ongoing debate over traditional vs. indie publishing. We're both with a small press, which I consider comparable to being an indie author. Do you agree? And are you optimistic about the future of publishing (by whatever means)?

I think this won't settle out for a while yet. Small press companies have dived into a huge ocean with lots of sharks, and really loud fog horns. I leaned toward traditional simply because they have the bigger market share, but that's a small crack for so many authors to leap for prior to the door slamming shut. Small press has difficulty getting heard over the background noise, and shifting market moment is a herculean effort, which can easily be reversed and erased by the next rather shallow best seller, that some of us can't believe got past an editor. What small press will do is beef up their advertising efforts and work more with major distributors to make their authors' works available to a larger reader base.

It takes a world thundering meteor to take out dinosaurs.

Buy it HERE!
You know what's coming. It's random question time! What were some of your favorite childhood toys?

Oh, gotta be Transfromers! My very first one was Megatron, who turns into a gun and a few other neat shapes. Sure the leader of the good guys turned into a truck, but Megatron and his Decepticon underlings turned into military grade hardware and more imaginative stuff beyond simply cars, trucks and vans. While I have fond memories of those, I enjoy more where the concept went in the movies. Granted Hasbro will be hard pressed to capture all of that into bits of plastic and metal.

Would you now be so kind as to share an excerpt of your work?

I mentioned that Bridging the Lotus was inspired by a dream. I incorporated it into two scenes close together in the third chapter with some space between. Here's the first part derived from the dream, and I'll indicate where that starts using a asterisk:
Bridging the Lotus, excerpt of Chapter Three: Out of Area.

“Okay, so now onto your medical history,” Beverly said, as the project’s assistant medical officer. “We’ve got a colloquial implant listed here. This was installed shortly after you were born?”
“Ah, yes,” Kyle answered, wondering if there would be any problems with it. “But I’ve kept it up to date every time proven advancements are made.”
“The version you have now shouldn’t cause issues with the pressure suit systems, so that’s okay,” Lieutenant Odessa assured. “I see you were diagnosed with Schwachman-Diamond Syndrome at seven years of age, but the gene therapy and your bone marrow stem cell re-culturing worked.”
“Eh, sort’ve,” Kyle said holding his hand over his head to indicate his short height. “I still have to refresh the nano-monitors into my bloodstream every eleven months.”
“Be lucky. Were you born twenty years earlier this condition would’ve planted you in intensive care,” Beverly pointed out. “Instead, you swung the other way, with the whole soccer thing.”
“Me and Teddy Roosevelt,” Kyle stated with pride at the historical commonality he shared. “You can knock us little guys down, but we get right back up and ask for more.”
“I don’t recall he had this condition.”
“No, but he grew up with a lot of health problems of his own,” Kyle agreed in part.
“Anyway, your current bill of health is outstanding,” Beverly observed, *and waited to type the last into her computer pad before continuing on. “You’re going to a place I like to call ‘No Emails.’”
“No Emails?” Kyle repeated confused by the vague name.
“Radiological very quiet. The universe is still young there.”
Yes, the dialogue in the dream sequence is exactly as I experienced it. In the second part I depict the main character, Kyle Patterson as suited up and advancing toward the Lotus Device with small shuttle style booster rockets and fuel tank on his pressuit suit. On the other side he lifts off the comet toward a small station circling it.

Namaste and I wish you the best of luck! I hope you'll return soon.

Thank you again for this opportunity. 


You can find John on the web at these locations: 

"For some sleep is a journey to places far afield. Where the unconcsious becomes our narrator and tour guide... as we walk other worlds." -John Steiner

***ATTENTION!! ***

If you'd like to be part of the Flipspace test audience, please let John know, and he'll send the latest drafts of the first two stories, FS1: Flight of the Mockingbird and FS2: Branching Out.

Blurb for Flipspace: Late in the twenty-second century humanity has finally breached the light barrier with a quantum loophole around Einstein's speedlimit. Better than that is the fact ships need not even move. Instead it's the starting points and destinations that trade places in a fourth dimensional rotation of space. The ISS Mockingbird, and her sister ship, the Magpie are the first two NATO military craft equipped with the Flipspace Device. They are called upon in an emergency rescue that begins their survice tour. Sometimes zanny, sometimes serious and even grave situations follow Mockingbird's commander, Colonel Sumitra Ramachandra, her executive officer, Major Lamarr Fitch, the flight surgeon, Captain Malcom O'Connell and others of the crew as they reach beyond the solar system, advance the human drive for discovery and keep the peace between nations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Journey to Inner Peace

This post is part of a one day Peace Blitz (August 15, 2012), hosted by MCV Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths. You can also enter a giveaway for a chance to win one of these prizes: $25 or $50 Amazon Gift Card, or a Custom Made Book Purse (winner pays postage).

Click HERE to visit the other stops:

And click HERE to enter the giveaway:

On with my entry:

My Journey to Inner Peace 

In the Bible, Mark 4:39 tells how Jesus calmed a terrible storm at sea while on a boat with his disciples by saying three simple words.

"Peace! Be still!"

For years, I've thought of that story when life's storms darken my joy. Those verses and others like it involving peace, particularly in Psalms, have given me much comfort over the years. Combined with prayer and meaningful meditation, it worked to calm my personal tempests.

Until about two years ago.

Let's begin earlier than that. On New Year's Eve in 2001, our first child Megan was born. If you're a parent, you can imagine the immense joy and fear we felt bringing our newborn home for the first time. I'd changed maybe three diapers in my lifetime, had no idea how to breastfeed correctly, and was woefully unprepared at just how much responsibility being a mother would bring. Yet, I had joy and lots of it.  I remember days and nights just relishing every little moment with my new daughter, and all the peace that came with it. Sure, I was a total mombie from lack of sleep, but Megan's birth symbolized that a part of my husband and I would carry on even after we're gone. She embodied the possibility of making the world a better place.

Over the next several years, life happened, as it tends to do. We went on to have two more children--true joys, but other things pulled the rug from under me, battering my already exhausted mind and body. But as mothers tend to do, I focused more on others than myself and ignored my own needs. More often than not, I felt hopeless and exhausted. I suspect that even a decade ago, I had un-diagnosed postpartum depression. Yet, I trudged on in denial, telling myself and everyone else that things would get better in time. But, life didn't slow down, and all the stress that came with it began to swallow me whole in 2010. It was the perfect foothold for clinical depression, and it came on so gradually that I didn't recognize it until it had rooted its dark claws in my mind.

That's the thing with depression. It tricks you into thinking you're just "down in the dumps". Everyone gets down sometimes, it tells you. You'll be fine if you just plow on through. Then, the lies begin. Obviously there's something wrong with you if you can't get over it. You start questioning everything you thought you knew about yourself. You start to forget that you used to be fun, that you used to enjoy the simple things, that you were a good person.

I can't begin to tell you how nasty it is. It's hard to describe depression to someone who's never experienced it. And maybe it's different for everyone. But, all I know is, somewhere along the way I lost my joy and sense of inner peace. Oh sure, I could put on a happy face when I needed to, and often, I actually felt happy enough that I thought I was getting better. The mental storm would retreat for a while, only to return again with a vengeance.

Some days, I literally felt like the worst (wife/mother/writer/person) in the world. Depending on the day, I could fill in the blank with anything. Prayer and Bible study didn't work anymore. How could it with depression telling me that not even God cared a whit about me? Some days, I could barely make myself get out of bed to do even the simplest things. In the last few months, I didn't even find much joy in writing anymore--the one thing that I'd clung to in an attempt to hold on to my drowning identity.

I think that's when I knew that I had to let go. This tug-of-war with depression was a pointless battle. I needed help. I needed to swallow my pride and get reinforcements.

So, I did. I'm about a month and a half into treatment, and FINALLY, after two years of stumbling in the dark, telling myself and everyone else that I was just fine, I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days, it's brighter than others, but I see it. And I keep heading for it. Depression is losing its grip. Lord knows, it's over-stayed its welcome.

Inner peace seems attainable once more. The dark veil is lifting. I'm not There yet. I'm not even sure if there is a There. What's important is the journey. I'm re-discovering myself as I head toward the light. I'm seeing things in a new way.

  • I understand that things aren't always black and white. What works for one person might not be good for someone else. 
  • I'm leaning more on faith than religion. 
  • I'm discovering that wisdom comes not just with age, but with experience.
  • I'm accepting that I cannot judge my own success by that of others. My journey will be my own, whether it's faster or slower than someone else's.
  • Peace, in all its forms, takes a great deal of work. It's a constant struggle to maintain balance, contentment, and proper motivation. When any of these things are off-kilter, peace will not prevail.
  • I am not super-woman, nor will I ever be. Before I can take care of others, I have to take care of me.
This morning, I read something that couldn't have come at a better time. Claudia Welch wrote in her article, "Protecting The Girl" (Romance Writers Report, August 2012) that "Part of protecting the work is protecting the girl who writes the work. Her joy must be preserved." 

I couldn't agree more. Depression is a selfish disease that consumes your inner peace and eventually tarnishes every aspect of your life. You have to protect yourself and seek help when you need it. I'm hopeful now that my mind's on the mend. Depression is still there, trying to infiltrate my weak points, yet I'm able to push past it more often than not. I'm back to accomplishing things. However small, they're still victories. I'm ready to stand at the helm with Jesus and shout at the world, "Peace! Be still!" and relax in knowing that it's possible.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Interview with M. G. Cronkite

 Unwritten Peeps, please welcome author M.G. (Marlene) Cronkite, who's just released her first crime thriller, Dangerous Presence, which was recently featured on  Desert Local


Born in Santa Maria California, Marlene Cronkite grew up on the move. She was never in one town longer than three months. Although she found it painful to leave her friends behind, the constant change gave Marlene the creative insight she needed to write and paint.

After Marlene raised two wonderful children, she settled in southern California. She had always been aware that she was an artist. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t sketching, painting, or even doodling, a portrait or a landscape.

When Marlene felt the desire to write, she joined several writing groups, and it only seemed natural to paint word pictures. In the beginning she wrote short stories, then later expanded to novels.
Marlene belongs to Writer's Village University, and she is a co-moderator for the Hemingway Hall Writing Group. Dangerous Presence is Marlene's first novel.

Where to find M. G. Cronkite online

Blog: Story Gems

Marlene's agreed to be interrogated mercilessly like all of my victims subjects. Let's give her our usual attention by barraging her with questions and comments.

Welcome, Marlene! Please make yourself as comfortable as possible under the swinging bare light bulb. Now, tell us, where were you the night of November 11? Not talking, huh? Ok, just tell us a little about what you do when you're not writing sexy crime thrillers.

When I'm not at the computer writing, I'm plotting (in my head) the next scene or idea for my novel. I do paint in oil, but lately I've just been too busy writing for anything else. I hope to start water aerobics soon.

I've snooped around and read the blurb for Dangerous Presence. It goes something like this:
Psychologist, Jacquelyn Kincaid’s five-acre garden estate becomes deadly ground when blatant sex acts in a hot tub fuel a serial killer’s lethal vendetta. In her quest to prove her kid brother innocent of the murders, Jacquelyn fights for his life and finds herself butting heads with the law, all the way up the bureaucratic ladder to the FBI. 
Did the inspiration for this novel come from actual news events or was it solely born from your imagination?

Much of it was born out of my own imagination. However I did a lot of research on serial killers. I wanted my bad guy to be as real and as three-dimensional as possible. My character Jacquelyn Kincaid, aka, Doc, is pretty much my alter ego. She does outrageous things in order to track down this serial killer, which most people in their right mind wouldn't do. I place her in dangerous situations, but somehow she manages to survive. 

Who have been the most influential authors for you?

I think that would have to be Robert Ludlum. I like action thrillers, and he impressed me the most with his Bourne series. Also James Patterson with his  Alex Cross series. He is probably the most influential for Dangerous Presence.

I haven't been nearly as active as I'd like, but as a fellow Writers' Village University student, tell the readers here a bit about your experience with this online writing community.

I started with Writer's Village University over ten years ago. In the beginning, I took a couple of F2K courses. Then I decided to jump into the big university. I was scared at first, but in time I grew as a writer, and I met a lot of wonderful people.

Are you working on anything at the moment, and can you tell us about it?

Yes, I have two books in the works. One is a sequel to Dangerous Presence. Right now it's in the plotting stage. The other book is about a U.S. Marine who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has survivors guilt after a helicopter crash that killed all of his buddies. He came out alive with an injured leg. The theme is about how he deals with survivors guilt and PTSD. He also falls in love. All this is happening while the plot has him  chasing down bad guys who are trying to kill his father and get their hands on a map that leads to millions in buried gold. The working title is Murder in Rogue's Hollow

Random question time! Name some of the top things on your bucket list.

At the top of the list, my goal is to update my blog and write about my experience as a self published author. My long term goal is to finish my two novels and publish them.

Finally, Ms. Cronkite, could you please give us an excerpt of your work, whether published or in progress?

Here is an excerpt of Dangerous Presence:

 Chapter 26

After I left Barb’s Place, I walked along the wooden boardwalk until I came to the end of the storefronts. I wanted to see the crime scene in daylight hours. As I peered over the top of the cordoned off area, something my father often said popped into my head. “Crime scene investigators invariably screw up. Leave the job to the sleuth whose sensory genius will never fail to uncover important clues.”
 With my father’s words in mind, I scanned the alley, aware that if I went in, I’d be invading a crime scene, most likely a misdemeanor. I weighed the risk then carefully ducked under the yellow tape and edged my way around, stepping lightly on partially dried mud. 
It was hard to believe that only the night before the alley had been drenched in rain. Now, water soaked deep into the earth, leaving a forest of wet debris. Maybe the investigative team missed something, I surmised. Maybe a clue would appear in the slippery residue. I knew I was grasping at straws. But something within me wouldn’t let go of it. 
Buy it HERE!
The sun was warm, but I shook off an icy chill as images of the shadowy figure in a red windbreaker flashed across my mind. The thought had never left me that whoever murdered Willy returned to the scene of the crime in search of something important. Then again, perhaps I had dozed off and only dreamed I saw the man in the lightning storm bending over Willy’s body. Perhaps he was a figment of my imagination. 
All great detectives believe in themselves and follow their gut. I’d heard it all my life from my cop father. Thanks, dad, but if I followed my gut I’d get the hell out of here right now. With that simple truism, I tentatively gazed around. 
That which could be seen by the naked eye was rotten food heaped in piles around the dumpster, that and sodden cardboard boxes. Blowflies swarmed, and the place reeked of spoiled waste. My stomach churned. Why am I putting myself through this? I was getting sick all over again. 
I swallowed back nausea and focused on the spot where Willy had been propped against the garbage bin. There were food-scraps strewn in different directions as if hungry dogs had had a tug-a-war. I couldn’t take it. I turned to leave. 
Then, as I headed out, my eye caught something near the dumpster—something that sparkled intermittently in the sunlight. Probably more garbage debris, I reasoned. The only way I could get to the object was to wade through thick sludge, or jump for a patch of dried earth near the dumpster. I weighed the possibilities of missing the mark and quickly made the decision to leap. I landed a bit wobbly, but in seconds both feet were planted securely on hard clay. I squatted down for a closer look. 
The thing was partially buried in mud behind a paper cup, but it was visual enough for me to see a small flashing stone—a ring, perhaps a button? 
It was in reach, but I’d have to stretch. Just as I attempted to grab for it, a rat scurried from behind the paper cup. I panicked and bolted forward bracing my hands flat against the dumpster. My awkward stance wouldn’t hold for long before my feet slipped out from under me. Thoughts of lying prone in the middle of a mud puddle flashed through my mind. Not again. Please God, not again. 
I closed my eyes, took several deep breaths and counted to ten. I lied and told myself the rats were more afraid of me than I was of them. When my composure returned, I steadied myself, then calmly bent down and reached for the object. 
I stood up and held the thing in the palm of my hand. I poked at it. Mud clung to the object, and its shape reminded me of a piece of dog poop with something shiny attached. I poked and studied it some more. Then it dawned on me what it was, and I didn’t want to go there. 
I reached into my jean pocket and felt for the paper napkin that I’d saved from Steve’s breakfast. If this were what I thought it was, I’d have to turn it over to Steve right away, no matter the consequences. 
Then I froze. The choice may not be mine alone to make. The distinctive sound of tires screeched to a stop in the parking lot. 
Car doors slammed, and I recognized Joe’s burley growl.“Looks like your Doc friend is here. Isn’t that her Mustang?”  
Steve’s voice was unmistakable. “Yeah, she’s probably inside the saloon playing detective. The girl just won’t listen.” 
This was going to be a real challenge. I knew I only had a few seconds before they discovered I wasn’t in the saloon. I held onto the thing wrapped in the napkin and jumped across to the dry patch of earth. I ducked under the crime scene tape and found my way out the same way I came in. 
Steve and Joe pushed through the saloon door just as I slid behind the wheel of my car. I carefully placed the object wrapped in the napkin on the floorboard of the car and started the engine. Steve and Joe sauntered over. 
“What are you still doing here?” Steve asked, gazing at me through the open window. 
“I stopped for gas as you advised.” I hid my muddy hands in my lap. 
“Seems you should’ve been gassed up long ago and gone by now.” He glanced over his shoulder at the alley then back at me. 
“You weren’t nosing around in the crime scene just now, were you?” 
I was never a good liar, so I didn’t answer. 
“You know what I think?” he asked. 
I looked over at Joe then back at Steve. “No, why don’t you tell me what you think.” 
“I think you were back there in the alley just now poking around where you don’t belong.” 
“I guess you can’t arrest me on the grounds of what you think, can you.” 
“No, but if—” 
“In that case I’ll be running along,” I said, putting the car in reverse. 
“Now wait a minute,” Joe said. “Why are you in such a hurry?” He chewed on his cigar and glared at me. “You act guilty as hell. You look guilty as hell.” He gazed up at Steve. “Doesn’t she sort of remind you of a—” 
“Yeah,” Steve nodded. “She reminds me of a duck. She looks like one, talks like one, acts like one— ” 
“Like, maybe she is one.” Joe said, as he stepped up closer to the car and peered through the window. “Like maybe you’d like to tell us what you’re hiding in there?” 
I didn't answer. 
“What’s the matter? Cat got the good doctor's tongue?” 
“I’d really like to stay and chat, but…” I backed up and peeled out of the parking lot. I felt like a criminal and half expected to see a blinking red light pull up behind me. 

Thank you very much for visiting, Marlene. I wish you a ton of success! If you're not scarred for life, do come back, will you?

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Mysti. I enjoyed every moment of it.