Saturday, June 28, 2014

Interview with Kate O'Leary, author of Twell

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?

Kate O'Leary
I live in South Australia, and am, currently residing in the Adelaide Hills, which is a farming and winery area. Very green and rolling hills, with the famous Barossa Valley wine region not far away, stinking hot in summer, and freezing and misty in winter, good old extreme Aussie weather!

I grew up in a small town right at the bottom of Australia, where the caves are on the world heritage list, they are so extensive and so many bones of newly undiscovered extinct critters are continually found! They even made a dinosaur park where you can scare your kids with dinosaur size kangaroos. Creepy!

When I am not writing I usually push paper around for a living in boring office jobs, but in leisure time I enjoy cooking, singing and dancing to house cleaning, working out anywhere but in an actual gym (boring!)  drinking good wine (lucky there’s plenty of that around here!) and I also love to get outdoors to walk or even rock climb! (Although not in winter, as frozen hands make climbing a tad dangerous)

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

I studied a course in children’s literature after I finished high school. One of my short essays was about Twell, my MC, and she was having a tantrum at her guardian over having to be partnered to some boy she didn’t know. The essay was in storage for several years until one day the idea of it came back to me and I knew there was so much more Twell had to say and experience. I wanted to explore a world where society was different to the free will we enjoy in western society. I wanted to explore how loyal we should be to our Government, and how much of ourselves our leaders should know of us, or have a say over.

After the first book was complete, I knew Twell had even more to say, see and do, and another book managed to churn out of my brain, which Fire & Ice have also taken on for publishing later this year. Now I have the scary task of writing the last book, the hardest and most challenging of them all!

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

When I wrote the first book, the whole thing came out in a couple of months. I would have dreams of the characters having a conversation, (arguments mostly) wake up, and stumble downstairs to quickly write it down before going back to bed. I’d be at work, and another pivotal conversation would spring on me. I’d write the story on random pieces of paper as it came to me and then type it out once I got home. The characters were alive and kicking and vocal! I was excited, and living and breathing the world of Como!

By the second book, I knew the characters better, (those who made it into the second book that is) and that book flowed out in a couple of months too. However I actually wrote these books a few years ago, and have been tinkering with them ever since as I have hones my writing skills with classes and in writing forums. The original manuscript has come a long way in terms of style and flow, as well as the plot being reworked many times. I have learned to be a better writer by taking on constructive criticism and observing what I like about the style of my favorite writers.

My favorite moments are when I surprise myself with what I write, and feel excited for others to read it. However the third book has not come so easily, maybe because I feel more pressure to make it as good as the others so it’s interrupting my flow, and what I would naturally write. I truly need to get back into the world of Como and just let the characters do their thing! 

So my least fave moment is now, when I have writers block and am also trying to focus on marketing the first book, and then the second! 

Also I parted with some scenes I really loved because I knew they didn’t advance the plot in any way. Chopping them out was painful, but it paid off, and once it came to the editing progress, the editor did not want to remove anything I could cry over!

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

Wait for the characters to talk to you or for an idea to evolve. If not, just start writing and see what comes out, even if you can only manage a few sentences, it’s important to keep going, as you may be pleasantly surprised! If all else fails, have a cheeky glass of wine (or two), then your can write with less inhibition and over thinking and always go back and rework it later!

Find it HERE! 
Can you please share an excerpt? 

“Did it ever occur to you that some of us just want a chance know what it’s like to experience passion, Twell?” Jonaz asked, now stepping even closer to me. His voice became a low growl and my stomach lurched and fluttered alarmingly. 

I stiffened at how close he was, but resisted taking a step back.

 “Don’t you want the opportunity to feel these things, Twell? Maybe even feel what it’s like to be in love before the chance is taken away?” He continued more gently. His expression was honest, no trace of arrogance now. Instead, a flash of sadness crossed his features, and something else, something raw, something like need. 

With a shock, I sensed that somehow, this boy who seemed to have such a blessed life, might actually be missing something. Had I just caught a glimpse of actual pain or loss behind the arrogant fa├žade? It threw me, weakening by resolve, and I struggled to retain my anger as a twinge of guilt twisted inside me.

“I’d rather trust the Governing Body to handle that part of my life.” I stared at the ground abashed. This was getting emotional and I just couldn’t go there. Not with anyone and especially not with Jonaz Maven, of all people. His hand shot out, jerking my chin up, forcing me to look into his eyes. The way they saw straight through me and my lies made me feel as exposed and vulnerable as if I’d been standing there stark naked. I stopped breathing.

What’s your next/current writing project?

The final book in the Como Chronicles Trilogy, Eeek!

Here’s a totally random question for you:

I've been reading a lot of sci-fi lately, and I've always wondered what it might be like to be a sexy alien. Use this link to find your alien name and let us know what you come up with

My alien name is Von, LOL

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thank you! Twell comes out on June 26th in print and e-book, hope you enjoy!


Kate O’Leary, has loved reading and writing ever since she was young enough to try and get through the back of her cupboard into Narnia, or through her mirror into Wonderland!  In high school she entertained her homeroom reading out chapters of her first novel ‘Miranda’ about a teenage girls adventures with her horse Rusty.

After school Kate studied Children's Literature, and her first drafts of Twell were awarded in writing competitions. Kate’s writing interest is firmly embedded in dystopian fantasy, being continually fascinated with future direction of our world and the concepts of free will and moral vs. lawful obligations. Twell’s adventures will continue to explore these ideas in the Como Chronicles Trilogy.

Kate lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of Australia, surrounded by rolling hills and wineries and horses, as well as some good rocks to climb when she feels like scaring herself!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Guest Post & Giveaway: World-Building on the Sly by Will Hahn

World-Building on the Sly

Will Hahn

How I love world-building, Lord forgive me. But readers don’t, do they? I described it once this way. “Like a flu shot, your readers have to have it, but they complain whenever they detect the smallest pinch. We amuse them with a distracting joke, promise it won’t hurt, and try to get it over quickly. Your book is better for it- but don’t hold your breath waiting for appreciation.”

Map of the Lands of Hope
So what’s the solution? Don’t look at me! But in Judgement’s Tale, I have a novel advantage I’m trying out (that’s literary humor there, it’s a 200k monsterpiece!). In Part One we meet characters from across the Lands of Hope, in the PoV-per-chapter style that folks are getting accustomed to nowadays. But some of my characters are actually Sages. One of them, Cedrith, meets Solemn Judgement, the main character and an alien here. So there’s a familiar path to introducing Judgement- and the reader- to his new world.

Beyond that, though, Judgement is a studious and literate fellow, drawn to some of the oldest and most unnerving subjects in the restricted Dark Archives. Worse yet, he insists, though he’s a newcomer, that a young knight praying before the founder’s statue is in grave danger of murder, in a city where no law has been broken in 4,000 years. More study, to find the truth before ancient customs are shattered.

This gives the tale an air of mystery, and I swallowed hard when I saw how many scenes were taking place inside a library. But then I thought of The Name of the Rose and was comforted- plus this is epic fantasy have no doubt. A liche schemes to reawaken the curse of undeath and the clock is ticking while this guy just reads and reads.

I hope you enjoy Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance when it releases July 4th. Maybe you’ll see a world being built without realizing it!

Coming July 4! 
For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him.

In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement- soon to be known as The Man in Grey- must learn to play… Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale.

Find the Tales of Hope at all major online retailers:

Barnes and Noble
And at iTunes search under “Wm. L. Hahn”


Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.

Will didn't always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.

Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). With the publication of Judgement’s Tale Part One, Games of Chance, he begins at last to tell the tale of the Land’s most unique hero, The Man in Grey.

Will Hahn is the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales.
The Plane of Dreams- See the trailer!
The Ring and the FlagTry the Audio Book at Scribl!
Fencing Reputation-

Will's Blog Thoughts- Including tales of a happy childhood (which continues), hopes for a writer's journey, and analysis of Classics You've Never Read

Rafflecopter of the Lands Contest
Enter to win free Tales of Hope here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interview with Victoria Bastedo, author of Roots Entwine

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Victoria Bastedo
Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?

Hi everyone! My name is Victoria Bastedo and I live in a small city near Seattle. It’s so beautiful here, and the moist climate is gentle and varied. Outside my house a bend of the river turns a corner and travels towards our little mountain, Mt. Si. If you’re a Twin Peaks fan, you might recognize it. When I’m not writing
I’m very busy with my large family, and with my two grandbabies! (If I sound cheerful with a fluffy inside I can’t help it.)

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

I came up with the idea for Roots Entwine in two ways. One is that I have experience with kids who have challenges, as in depression or A.D.D. or other monikers. When you have six kids you’ve earned an honorary doctor’s badge by the time they’re grown. We’ve had Dyslexia, M.S., M.E.R.S.A, something which none of the teacher’s at school have ever seen, and substances. (But no broken bones, praise God!) I wanted my main character to have a mind that works different from everyone else’s. Because he’s different he has a unique perspective and understanding. This ability he has can seem like a curse to him as it causes him pain and makes him be left out of the course of other people’s lives. But it can also be a gift. I wanted to say that a young person’s differences, when used to help others, can be something beautiful.

… Ha, ha, I’d also just become aware of the full scope of certain dystopian books out there for young people that I thought were about as miserable as misery could be. I thought, ‘isn’t it possible that young people might like an adventure book, one that has danger and sacrifice but nobility and heroes as well?’

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

 My writing process- well, I’m a linear writer, if that’s a term and I understand it correctly. Outlines. I hate them. I call them Inspiration Killers. My favorite part is finding the story as I go, letting it illuminate and fill out and create the world. All my stories have a happy ending, but despite being so fluffy I am willing to give my characters some hardship on the road to getting there! The worst part is when I feel that I’m not able to deliver the ending that the story deserves.

Coming in late July!
What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

 My cure for Writer’s Block- sheesh.  Good question. I’m in that place a bit right now, and it’s worrisome. The only way is to trust, to have confidence in yourself. One time my friend told me that I needed to weep, and she was right in that instance. The tears released (while I was driving, ha ha, I must’ve looked pathetic and a little off!) allowed me to unkink the nerves that had been holding me back. Also sometimes one needs to live for a while, and see some unusual things and reawaken the inner curiosity.

Can you please share an excerpt? 

Can I share a poem instead?

Writer’s Block

When you have block, your mind is so hopeful.
Quivering, it searches, longs to live again-
You remember the first time you conceived it as a child, your own adventure,
That dreamland that belongs to you alone.
It’s bigger than the other people’s stories, vast and personal and free.
While there, you are anyone, raging through the important moments. 
Your quest is rich, like mediaeval colors, tapestries of silky Cinderella dresses,
And swords, and leather man boots.

But all of that is a memory now, drawing you, calling like an old friend.
You have taken a sabbatical, you have left the area,
Like the way you outgrow your childhood friends,
Perhaps you need to change a little before you can return.
The questing road in your mind grows rocky and barren,
A bitter cold wind moves dust and snow flurries across the path.
Up in the sky creatures that you have never seen before hint of a new fantasy,
But fly off before you can catch them in story.

You search to create and find nothing but a feeling, unsatisfied, impatient,
And yet locked in waiting.
Until the day when the colors come back into your landscape,
When the quicksilver character passes by and winks at you.
Once more you feel the hard stone beneath your feet.
A glimmer… is it enough?
Poised, excited, you tell your loved ones,
“Get back and don’t interrupt me, don’t you get it? I’m writing!”

What’s your next/current writing project?

 My next project? Well I have several starts. One is a romance in which I’ve written a full page. The other is a Crossover that I wish I could get going. Yes. The next project is a Crossover!

Here’s a totally random question for you:

Come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “beer”.

Ha ha- a Haiku. Is that seven, five, seven? No wait- it’s five, seven, five! (That Dyslexia I mentioned might be inherited.)


Beer never be drunk
It tastes like essence of skunk
I don’t like it much

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

 Thanks so much for inviting me!

Victoria Bastedo has written a romance called Dear Miklos, published by Black Lyon Publishers. Fire and Ice Ya publishers has made me very happy, and I'm excited that Roots Entwine, a Young Adult Fantasy Adventure, will be coming out soon. I've also been published in two anthologies, two journals, and a zine. I'm a member of the board of my local writing group, surrounded by friends who give good advice! I'm a mother of six children, which has made me by association; a doctor, a teacher, an advice columnist, and a shoulder getting ever more cushioned by time.
When you look at this blog, you have to read from the bottom up! ---

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Interview with Jill Bisker, author of Finding the Way Back

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?
Jill Bisker

I live in the beautiful state of Minnesota where I enjoy biking, kayaking, gardening, reading, sewing, organizing, collecting anything vintage and taking photos.   My mind is always on another project whether it’s
decorating, writing or trying to stay active.

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

I’ve always loved ghost mysteries.  From Scooby Doo to the Ghost and Mrs. Muir to gothic novels, like those by Barbara Michaels, it’s just always been an interest of mine.  When I was growing up, my parents bought an old craftsman that they did refurbish and update, which sometimes really felt creepy if you were alone.  It started from those old memories and one day after watching The Ghost Hunters show the story just came to me. 

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments? 

My favorite time is the creation process.  It’s so fun to imagine yourself in another world with a different life and then conjuring up scenes peopled by characters you have created.   From outlining through the first draft it is a great time.  Then comes the 2nd, 3rd and more drafts.  That’s when the real work begins.  Making sure you aren’t missing something and ensuring the flow of words seems smooth and seamless is the most challenging thing for me. 

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

I outline in detail right from the start so I know the beginning, middle and end.  If a scene becomes difficult I go organize something, walk or drive in the country and it seems to make my brain work out the details.  It may end up as a scene that I have to rewrite later but it gets finished.  For me the challenge is not so much writer’s block as it is the rest of life getting in the way of my writing!

Grab Your Copy Here!
Can you please share an excerpt? 

Emmett walked over and pulled on the door. It was stuck.
“I just opened that yesterday, right after we moved all the boxes out of the way,” Connie said, going to the door also. “Let me try.” The door wouldn’t budge for her either. “Maybe something jammed in the opening or something,” she said, as she slid her hands around the edges of the door.
“Okay, my turn,” I challenged. Connie and Emmett moved over and I grasped the handle and pulled. Holding tight, I pulled with all my weight. The door gave way immediately, sending me flying backwards. Emmett jumped forward to catch me and we both crashed to the floor, our flashlights scattering. We lay in a crumpled heap, too dazed to move.
“Are you guys okay?” Connie’s forehead creased in concern as she leaned over us.
Slowly, I started to laugh. “I’m fine, except for my dignity and a few scrapes. Good thing I landed on Emmett.”
“I’m all right,” Emmett groaned from beneath me. “Got the wind knocked out of me but it was worth it.” I looked down at Emmett who was grinning at me from the floor. I blushed as I realized what he was saying. I hoped he couldn’t tell in the dark.
It was a new experience being around other men after so many years with just Simon. I hadn’t felt like this since I was in high school. Emmett’s breath was warm on my face and I felt an irresistible urge to kiss him.

What’s your next/current writing project?

I’m currently working on a fantasy novel about a young girl who was raised on earth but was born to a different world.  When she goes back to the alien world she finds everyone thinks she is a harbinger of change but for good or evil she has yet to discover.   

Here’s a totally random question for you:

Come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “bologna”.

Light pink in color
Mystery ingredients
I love bologna!

Thanks so much for stopping by! 


Jill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband, son and a calico cat named Senora.  Her work includes paranormal mystery/romance, traditional high fantasy, and contemporary fantasy, as well as an everyday living blog. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate.   

twitter - @jillbisker

Monday, June 23, 2014

(Reblogged) Read Around Sue: Up Close and Personal by Mysti Parker

Thanks to Susan Gesing for hosting me on her blog today. I'm talking about the harsh realities of the Civil War and how the bitter aftermath inspired me to write my first historical romance. I've also shared a never-before-seen excerpt! How do you find strength and heart to love again when the world you knew has been turned upside down and the battle of Reconstruction has just begun? Read on and let me know what you think...
CLICK HERE --> Read Around Sue: Guest Post: Mysti Parker.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Interview with Shelley R. Pickens, author of The Haunting of Secrets

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?

I am from Columbia, South Carolina but I live in Atlanta, Ga.  When I’m not writing I teach Spanish at one of the biggest high schools in the southeast.

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

I came up with the idea for my novel while driving home from South Carolina. It’s a three hour trip and I get lots of time to be creative!

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

Coming July 17!
When I write I never quite know where the story will go. Even though I have the idea and outline in my head, the story seems to write itself sometimes.  And when I finish a chapter that I particularly like and I re-read it and think “Wow”, there’s no greater moment. My least favorite moment of the writing process is when I can’t remember what color eyes I made a particular character. Details are not my strong suit.

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

A trip to the pool and a margarita seems to always work. J

Can you please share an excerpt? 

The whole world around me is moving in slow motion. It isn’t until I am hit in the face with a bloody hand wrenched completely off at the wrist that I realize the roar I had heard was a bomb. I begin my descent to the hard floor; my body constantly hitting pieces of table, metal mixed with plastic from chairs, and chunks of things stained red that I don’t even want to know where they came from. I hit the ground on my right side; the contact sends a painful jolt through my shoulder that travels the length of my body. My gloved hands cover my face to ward off the feet trampling all around me. The images of body parts flying through the air and blood spattering on the walls and floor are seared into my brain. In another life, it could have been art, a pretty mosaic depicting the tragedies of life. My first instinct is to avoid, at all possible costs, the touches of the hordes of people that come my way in a desperate attempt to flee the carnage. I have no idea where I am in the cafeteria anymore; I just know that I have to get out, get away from all those people; from all of their secrets.

What’s your next/current writing project?

I am currently writing the sequel to The Haunting of Secrets – Unhinged.  It’s almost finished I’m happy to say.

Here’s a totally random question for you:

Come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “salsa”.

Sitting it mocks me
A salsa created true
Why do you burn me?

Thanks so much for stopping by! 


Shelley Pickens is a Spanish teacher by day and a novelist by night. She’s been in love with everything paranormal since she can remember.  After years of teaching high school students, she decided to take her firsthand knowledge of young adults and apply it to her passion for creative writing and fantasy.  When not teaching or writing, Shelley likes to spend time with her husband and two beautiful children in Atlanta, Ga.  Her escape from reality is her love of complex thriller and science fiction TV series like Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow.  In her spare time she is an avid watcher of little league baseball.  THE HAUNTING OF SECRETS is her debut novel. 

Book Trailer:
(an actual video with student actors from my school created by the kids in the video class. It's amazing!)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview with Jody Vitek, author of Rescue Me

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in a suburb south of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. If I’m not writing, you could find me on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game snapping photos of him playing. I like to scrapbook when time allows, which isn’t often, as I am behind on my scrapbook pages. During the summer months I help an older friend with her gardening. The gardening allows me some personal time to relax. Otherwise, as the COO of the household, I’m busy with the duties one must face owning a home.

How did you come up with the idea for this book/series?

I’d love to talk about my upcoming release late this fall, Texas Two Step. It’s a follow up with the secondary characters from my debut release, Florida Heat. The story mainly takes place in Dallas, TX with a few scenes taking place in Florida. The story came about when readers asked me, “What happened to Chloe and Chad?” So, the readers are getting their wish answered. The title might lend you to think there’s some dancing in the book, but it has nothing to do with the Texas Two-Step.

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

Interesting question. My favorite part was brainstorming the story with fellow writers on a retreat. My least favorite moment was when my characters decided to stop talking to me and I couldn’t write. I guess you could say I suffered from a minor case of writer’s block. A fellow writer went through the same thing with me and we joked that our characters were hanging out at the bar together while laughing at us. I’m glad to say, all characters return to their respective stories.

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

I step away from the story and use my creativity another way by scrapbooking. Yard work can help too. The story is never far from my thoughts. I must admit though, writer’s block doesn’t scare me, it’s the “doubter” within telling me I don’t know what I’m doing and to quit writing. The “doubter” is pure evil.

Can you please share an excerpt?

I would love to share an excerpt of my current release, Rescue Me. This story takes place on a farm in Minnesota.

Can Catherine accept the consequences of a great-aunt's dying wish without losing her heart or independence?
Taking in stray, injured or needy animals, veterinarian doctor Catherine Mornelli opens the Four Hooves and Paws Rescue program. But the land where the animals are kept is being sold. She approaches her Great-Aunt Elaine about possibly using her barn. However, visiting her aunt and checking out the barn also means seeing her ex-boyfriend.
Josef Garrison farms land that once belonged to his family for generations but went to his neighbor Elaine after his great-grandfather lost it in a poker game to Catherine’s great-grandfather. When Catherine returns, he sees a way to win back her heart and the land at the same time.
Josef followed and set his plate on the counter behind her. His other arm came around to her other side. Trapped against the counter, she turned to face him. 
“What are you doing?” she asked briskly as her face grew warm. 
“I thought maybe we could pick up where we left off earlier in the bedroom. I felt the spark.” He leaned in and warm lips met hers. 
She pulled back. “We have more to talk about.” 
“Let’s talk later. After …” he kissed her lips, “we …” nibbled her ear, “reignite …” 
lingered over a kiss on her neck, “our relationship,” then returned to kiss her mouth as she melted into a puddle. 
Her heart raced rapidly. Her stomach quivered. Her legs turned to jelly in the most delicious way. 
As Josef pulled away, her eyes opened. He lifted her in his arms and exited the kitchen, passed the stairs and entered the master suite. He bent, laying her on the bed. His bed. He loomed over her with his hands at her sides. Nerves heightened and prickled like when your foot is asleep and you’re trying to wake it up. Not knowing whether this was the thing to be doing or not, her body knew what it wanted. Its name was Josef. 
The tee shirt clinging to his torso needed to come off. She grabbed the hem and pulled the shirt over his head. Oh … my … God! She tossed the shirt to the floor. Her hands wandered over his hairy chest.

What’s your next/current writing project?

Well since I already shared my current work/upcoming release, I haven’t started another project. Not saying that it hasn’t been on my mind. I did leave a possibility with two characters in Texas Two Step to have their own story, but at this time I’m not sure I want to write it. I have an idea based on a picture that I’m thinking about. I’ll be going away on my annual retreat this fall and will brainstorm the next book.

Here’s a totally random question for you:

Come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “clown”.
Warm summer breezes
Bikes zoom up and down the street
Bike horn honks—clown!
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thank you for inviting and having me here today.


Born and raised in Minnesota, Jody has remained close to home living with her husband of twenty plus years, three children and a cat named Holly. Growing up, she enjoyed reading V.C. Andrews' the Dollanganger series, starting with Flowers in the Attic, S.E. Hinton, and Stephen King to name a few. Today her tastes run across the board in fiction and non-fiction, in all genres.

She has traveled throughout the United States, to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. Between watching her son’s soccer games, maintaining one of the many scrapbook albums, gardening and being the COO of the Vitek household, she writes contemporary romances.

Contacts and Links
Twitter: @JodyVitek

All of my books are available through Melange Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other on-line retailers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guest Post: So You Want to Be a Writer? by S. Hampton, Sr.

So You Want to Be a Writer?
S. Hampton, Sr.

            Are you sure?
            Well, as long as you are sure, there are a couple of things to remember. No, I am not going to write about dangling participles or nouns or verbs or adverbs or independent clauses. You will get all of that in high school and/or college or university classes. There are also plenty of places on the Internet (including blogs) to look up that information, not to mention old-fashioned print books at your local book chain or mom and pop used bookstores.
Find it HERE!
            One thing I want to remind you of is, of course, master the English language. I tend to write the way I speak, therefore I am not a grammar wiz. I keep copies of the Thesaurus, English handbooks, and especially Strunk and White The Elements of Style next to my laptop. I have the great fortune of working with excellent editors who “red mark” my manuscripts as needed.
            But, nothing replaces your knowledge, skill and experience. William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck did not become literary giants without mastering the English language. By the way, they also knew how to tell a story.
            Two, do not expect to get rich overnight. Unless you are the next Faulkner, Hemingway, or Steinbeck, and you have a powerhouse of a publisher pushing your marketing/public relations campaign, becoming successful will most likely be an uphill slog. That is not to say it will not happen, but for most writers it will be uphill. But once you get there the view (and rewards) will be magnificent—or so I have been told. I am still slogging.
            Three (I know I said two, but bear with me), whatever you write will never please everyone. There will always be people who write negative reviews of what you write, and lately sometimes they and their ilk take their dislike to a personal level. I refer to these people as “literary gangs.” These gangs can be found on all reader sites but on some more than others. Do not get into a urinating contest with these gangs. It is not worth your time, and by going head-to-head with them, you are only validating them. That is not to say that you cannot complain to the site owner if there is a clear pattern of abuse by these gangs, but my suspicion is that most site owners could care less.
            Besides, whether people like your writing or not, you already have the best validation. Your publisher, who wants to make money of course, sees sales potential in your writing, offered a contract, and is eagerly waiting for your next story. Your publisher believes in you.
            Develop a thick skin and believe in yourself.

            Therefore, go forth into the world of pronouns, interrogative pronouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc., and write a grammatically correct masterpiece. Oh, and do not forget to tell a story!


Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.
            His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).
            After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
            As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.
            Hampton can be found at:

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing Author Page UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Interview with Beth Fowler, author of Ken's War

Hiya peeps! Melange Books took a chance on me about five years ago and opened the door to make my publishing dreams come true. They've given many authors that chance since then, so I wanted to give props to Melange this month by interviewing several of their authors. You'll find some great insights, tips, and new books to read along the way. Enjoy!

Beth Fowler
Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in York. The Pennsylvania city was, for a short time, the nation’s capital. When I’m not writing, I surprise my husband with one-of-a-kind meals made with whatever’s on hand. How else can you explain sweet potato-chickpea-yogurt soup? I’m an artist and a volunteer business mentor with SCORE (

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

The seed for Ken’s War was planted when my former martial arts instructor, a white American, told me that as a child he’d lived in Japan with his dad and learned martial arts at a dojo there. That intrigued me. Generally, I write fiction to explore relationship dynamics and emotions, especially emotions occurring covertly in the subtext and behaviors of what’s overtly acknowledged between people.

Tell us about the writing process—what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

I usually start with a character in mind and write a bio for that person. Once I get started with a nugget of story, I find that ideas, details, information and fodder flood me from all sources – TV, other books, overheard conversations and from purposeful research. I developed a process called “Build-a-Scene” that makes writing flow easily for me.

I love refining, writing tighter, finding the perfect word and chopping out fat.

The least favorite aspect of writing is searching for an agent or publisher. It’s easy to get discouraged, but we must remember that some novels that are classics now were rejected numerous times.

What’s your favorite cure for writer’s block?

I don’t get writer’s block, but I know some writers do.

Have you ever heard of accountant's block? Janitor's block? Secretary's block? Butcher's block? Oops, you get my point. Whether the writing hiatus is due to an idea ripening, a log jam of ideas, fear, caution, pressure, a sanity break or something else, it's temporary. Accept it for a time. Don't feel guilty or incompetent. Don't compare yourself to writers who crank out thousands of words daily. Think of the break as steam gathering for your next power surge. Or embark on an oxymoronic scribble - write about writer's block.

Can you please share an excerpt? 

Ken sliced the envelope open with a kitchen knife. A cowboy and glitter words, “It’s your 16th
birthday!” were on the front of the card.
Inside his mom had written, “Keep up with your schoolwork. You have a baby brother, born May 9. He’s a half-brother, since he’s my new husband’s son. Love, Mommy.”
His father’s face was etched with curiosity. “What’s it say?” Paderson asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me you’re not married anymore?” Ken pushed past their Japanese housekeeper, who’d come gliding toward him with her handkerchief to soak up tears burning his eyes.
Outside, humidity coated him like waxy skin he couldn’t shed. He picked a scab off his knee and pictured his mom at their old kitchen table, writing the birthday message, convinced that what she was telling him was good news. She would have licked the adhesive on the envelope flap. Then using the side of her fist, she would have patted the sticky flap down to the rhythm of the throbbing pearl of pain in his chest.
                Why did she need another son?
                When Ken returned to the house lost hours later, he found the housekeeper snipping flower shapes out of rice paper with small scissors. She glued the shapes onto the rice paper screen separating the kitchen from the sleeping area. The flowers - ghostly shadows - patched holes Paderson’s drunken fingers had punctured through the translucent room divider.
                That’s how Ken knew his dad hated the birthday message, too.

What’s your next/current writing project?

I’m putting finishing touches on the novel Authenticity. Lynn, a gifted art intuitive, knows in her gut if paintings are priceless masterpieces or forgeries. Authenticity is her forte. Or so she thought.

Here’s a totally random question for you:
 I’m on a silly haiku kick, so come up with your own silly haiku, but you must include the word “platypus”.

Mammal or mutant?
God’s conundrum platypus
Defies defining

Love it! Thanks so much for stopping by!


Bio: I’m a word nerd, meaning I love writing (and rewriting), completing crossword puzzles and finding boo-boos on menus and brochures. I have a bossy cat and a well-behaved spouse.

Over 400 of my articles and short stories have been published here and internationally. Oxford University Press published two anthologies of my stories. I've taught fiction and non-fiction writing in the U.S.A. and abroad.

Like Ken, the protagonist in Ken’s War, I've been uprooted from Yankee soil to live in the Far East where culture shock was a daily challenge.

Buy Links:
Contact Link: