Beginning January 1, 2013

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG: NANCY SPRINGER

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KILLING TIME
by
Nancy Springer


"How long does it take you to write a novel?" an aspiring writer asks, and without pausing to wait for an answer, "How do you find the time?"

These are two of the Three Inane Questions most frequently asked of novelists (the third one is,"Where do you get your ideas?") and like most "stupid" questions, they are so brilliant that I don't know how to answer. How can I explain how long it takes to write a novel? Your whole life, that's how long. Your childhood, your dreams, your waking time and sleeping time and loving and hurting time all go in. The young woman who wants to write already knows this in her heart, so she has rushed on to the next question: How do you find the time? There has to be a secret. There has to be a way to "find" or "make" time, more time than there is in a lifetime.

"Writers have a different sense of time than most people," I venture, which is sheer chutzpah on my part, because people have widely divergent views of time. To some, time is a thin stream of moments flowing away. To others, an ever-repeating cycle of seasons and reincarnation. Or perhaps it is nothing more than entropy a slow decay. But many would rather believe it is a stairway to climb. Widely divergent religions are based on these views, yet all seem to have the same goal: to escape time and achieve timelessness. The stream flows to the ocean of eternity. The soul escapes from the cycle and achieves nirvana. Entropy ends in stasis. The stairway ends in heaven.

"I don't know how long it takes me to write a novel." I say. "I don't count the days or the hours."

"Why? Because it might get too discouraging?"

I shake my head. "No, not at all. It's just. . .I lose track of time."

Lose track? I wish I hadn't said that. When I'm writing, I don't lose anything; I find something.

The young woman seems to project her own feelings onto me. "But don't you get discouraged when you have to change something it took you hours to write?"

"I've thrown away things it took me years to write. It doesn't matter. It's the process that's important. The writing itself."

"Do you write every day?"

"Yes."

"How many pages?"

"I don't know. It doesn't matter. Sometimes I just sit around and think."

She looks at me as if she wants to cry. "But how do you find the time?"

My life as a writer, I belatedly realize, may be incomprehensible to her, because it is a life of impossible rebellion against the one unconquerable tyrant: time. As a writer, I eschew time. I seldom plan for the future; where are my retirement fund, my benefit package? Nonexistent. My clock to punch, my commute, my schedule? Nonexistent also. My routine, my religion? Nil. Yet I hope to live after my time is up.

Chutzpah again: I hope to create books that will remain when I am gone.

"I don't find time," I respond. "I kill time. I assassinate it."

The aspiring writer gives up on me, smiles stiffly and moves away. Rightly so, because what she wants to know I can't explain. If she ever "finds time," it will be by losing what most people would regard as her sanity. It will be by stepping off the stairway and listening to that bustling in her hedgerow. It will be by leaving the thin tick-tock stream and leaping into the vast sea of once-upon-a-time. It will be by just doing it. It will happen the morning she gets up and, without checking her schedule, starts writing her novel.

About the Author:
Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery -- although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.



Dorrie White has been secretly following the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption as a baby. When Juliet is seized by an abductor, Dorrie gives chase without a moment's hesitation. But in order to save her daughter's life, ultimately Dorrie must confront her own dark, secret past.

Monday, July 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: p.m. terrell

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This post is part of a virtual book tour scheduled by Goddess Fish Promotions. p.m. will be giving away gift baskets from the real town of Lumberton, where Vicki's adventure takes place--one for a randomly drawn commenter and one for the host with the most comments, excluding the host's own or p.m.'s. (We're sorry, but because of shipping costs this giveaway is limited to US/Canada only). Click on the banner above to see the other stops on the tour.


I am drawn to writing suspense/thrillers, which can often be dark and contain non-stop adventure. But in real life, I am very different from most heroines I write about. Here are ten things most people don’t know about me:

#10. I relax by watching light romantic movies, preferably without any type of crime involved. I particularly love Leap Year, Bandits (with Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis & Cate Blanchett), Love, Actually and Mama Mia.

#9. Politically, I am an independent and I research every candidate’s positions before I vote.

#8. I know every move to Proud Mary and I adore Tina Turner.

#7. I started the New Leash on Life program at a Robeson County, NC prison, paring inmates with rescue dogs who are obedience trained with only positive reinforcement.

#6. When I grow up, I want to be Fionnula Flanagan. When I am writing scenes set in Ireland or with Irish women, I study her voice. I think she is one very classy lady.

#5. I have five fish tanks and the crown jewels are freshwater angelfish that are each ten inches tall. I find it very relaxing to maintain aquariums.

#4. I rescued a Jack Russell who had been shot in the leg and had his leg reconstructed; a collie who was so malnourished she was close to death; two walker hounds who had been seized from a hunting lodge by the SPCA; a mastiff and an Australian shepherd… but not all at once. One of my fantasies is earning enough money to help fund more animal rescue efforts.

#3. My favorite author is Erin Quinn. I love the time travel elements in her Haunting series.

#2. My favorite television series are Mad Men, Justified, Grimm and True Blood. I think Joe Manganiello (Alcide on True Blood) did the best PSA on bullying I’ve ever seen.

#1. I believe in eternal soul mates.

About the Author:
p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 14 books, including her latest series, Black Swamp Mysteries. Vicki’s Key, the first in the series, was a finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards. She co-founded The Book ‘Em Foundation to bring awareness to the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates and co-chairs the annual Book ‘Em North Carolina event. For more information, visit her website at www.pmterrell.com.

Following a flawed CIA mission, Vicki Boyd leaves the Agency to begin a new life in a new town assisting an elderly woman. But when she arrives, she finds Laurel Maguire has suffered a stroke and her nephew has arrived from Ireland to care for her. Vicki quickly falls in love with the charming Dylan Maguire, but all is not what it seems to be at Aunt Laurel's house. And when the VIA arrive to recruit Vicki for one more mission, she finds her CIA past and her new future are about to collide... in murder.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

GUEST BLOG: CYNTHIA VESPIA

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The Secrets of Writing
By
Cynthia Vespia


Recently, I’ve been asked the same question by a few different people. How do you write a book? These folks are anxious to get started on their own work and what they essentially want to know is the “secret” to writing and publishing. There’s no secret, no magic formula. I usually wind up telling them to write the book first and worry about the rest later. Without a story on the page you really have nowhere else to go. You can’t very well pitch an agent or publisher with a blank page, can you? I know someone out there is saying “Yes, it is called a proposal” but that’s more of a non-fiction business practice. I’m in the business of fiction and with fiction you have to have a finished manuscript.

Now back to that secret formula. I know most authors sometimes wish there was a magic pill you could take like Bradley Cooper had in the movie Limitless. That way you could harness your writing powers without all the distractions of day-to-day living and get that novel finished in record time. But it is in daily life where you get your best nuggets of writing.

This is especially true in character development. I love creating my characters, it juices me. This is the first thing I do after getting a spark of an idea. And I like to keep my characters based in reality, “warts and all” as they say. This means keeping little flaws and mannerisms that suit the character and give them more dimensions.

For instance, in my new suspense novel SINS AND VIRTUES I have a complex and unique hostage situation made even more complex and unique because of the characters themselves. First, I flipped the script and made a woman take a man hostage. Usually it is the other way around. But in Sam Mitchell, she is volatile and ready to snap based on years with an abusive husband and an extended stay in a maximum security prison. An example comes from a scene where Sam speaks to Ben Haskins, her captive:

“Are there any other weapons in this house?”

“No.” His answer was blunt and spoken too fast. She nudged him with her knee so that he would look up at her. When he didn’t budge she had to squat before him to take in his eyes.

“If you’re lying to me I’ll blow you away, got it?”

“Did you just wake up this morning and decide to ruin a man’s life?”

“I’m a woman, it’s what we live for.”

“You’re just an angry little girl, aren’t you?”

His defiance of her was shocking. She turned her attentions now to the knife. Taking it from atop the mantle she twisted it in her grip.

“I should gash out your eyes for that remark.”

“I have no doubt that you would.”

“Then don’t speak again.”

“It’s just that for whatever reason I was feeling a certain amount of compassion for you.” He’d been avoiding her gaze as if searching for some kind of revelation at the back of his mind. Now he turned back to her and it made Sam jump. “I feel like a fool. You’re nothing but a criminal. You don’t deserve compassion.”

He’d gotten her juice up and she was going to let him know about it. A swift back hand brought quick crimson to his lips.

“You don’t know the first thing about me,” she shouted. “You sit here in this fancy cabin living the most mundane existence I’ve ever seen and you dare to pass judgment on me? You don’t know anything, buddy.”

So within the dialogue you can create tension and build your characters just by the few words they speak. It’s fun, it’s one of the reasons I love writing so much.

Anyone out there who wants to write a book and doesn’t know where to begin…just start with an idea and a blank page. Learn the rules of writing, for sure. But then take them, and break them, and make them your own. When you cast away all your inhibitions and just tell whatever story you want to tell that’s when magic happens.

About the Author:
Cynthia writes suspense fiction with savagely powerful characters and strong storylines designed to stir the adrenaline. Cynthia likes to refer to her novels as "Real life situations that you could find yourself in but hope to God you never do. In her spare time she enjoys reading, movies that involve a strong plot/characters, and keeping active through various forms of martial arts and as an active fitness competitor.

SINS AND VIRTUES is available now through MusaPublishing.com and Amazon.com



A unique hostage situation is about to turn ugly unless author Ben Haskins can use his gift of words to befriend his captor.

Fantasy novelist Ben Haskins has taken a remote cabin in the wilderness to revive his shaky marriage and failing career. Within the peaceful surroundings he runs into real trouble when convicted murderer Sam Mitchell breaks into the cabin after she escapes from prison. Marked by a dark past of abuse Sam is volatile and ready to snap. It is up to Ben to use his writer’s gift of words to diffuse the situation before time runs out for them both.

Monday, July 9, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KM ROCKWOOD


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Leave a comment for a chance to win Steeled for Murder.

Most mystery and crime fiction is about solid citizens and police pursuing criminals and bringing them to justice.

Jesse Damon, the protagonist of my series of crime novels, is a criminal. He’s been released on parole after nearly twenty years in prison on a murder conviction he picked up when he was sixteen. Life is tough for a convicted felon, but it’s way better than being locked up, and Jesse is doing his best to hold down a job as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, live with the restrictions of parole and avoid being returned to prison on a new conviction or a parole violation. He’s even met Kelly, a forklift driver at work who has two kids, and she’s introducing him to some of the things he’s been missing out on all those years. Like family time. And sex.

Jesse realizes that when you’ve got one murder conviction under your belt, you’re a natural suspect when somebody with any connections to you at all is murdered. And you’re in no position to complain if the detectives bend the rules investigating your involvement. If he’s not going to go down for crimes he didn’t commit, it’s going to be up to him to figure out what’s happened and hope the detectives are willing to listen to him.

In my writing, I want to give a voice to some of the people who live on the margins of our society and whose struggles are largely invisible to most of us. People who got a raw deal in life, either from being born into unfortunate circumstances or who have had setbacks we don’t want to even imagine.

I have a varied background, including working in a steel fabrication plant like the one that employs Jesse and operating heavy machinery to manufacture fiberglass. I have also worked in a medium security prison, supervising an inmate work crew, and in several county detention centers. My present position is as a special education teacher in an alternative high school. Many people with whom I have worked have steep uphill climbs if they are ever to reach any kind of stability in their lives.

In Steeled for Murder, the first Jesse Damon crime novel, Mitch, the forklift driver at the work is found murdered in the warehouse. Jesse, who had the misfortune of having an altercation with him prior to the start of the shit, is the immediate suspect. Steeled for Murder was released as an e-book by Musa Publishing in April of 2012. Fostering Death, in which Jesse’s former foster mother is killed, is due for release as an e-book by Musa Publishing in August of 2012. The Buried Biker, in which Jesse is suspected of killing a biker who rapes his sometimes-girlfriend Kelly, is due for release as an e-book by Musa Publishing in December of 2012. Send-off for a Snitch, in which a police informant who had targeted Jesse is found dead, is due for release as an e-book by Musa Publishing in spring of 2013. They are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and directly from Musa Publishing.



Jesse Damon has spent most of the last twenty years in prison on a murder conviction. Now paroled, he's trying to beat the odds and stay out of prison with a pair of overactive cops watching him for mistakes. He's got a one-room apartment, a job working the overnight shift at a factory, and some-times girlfriend Kelly. If he can just stay out of trouble, he may even be able to join the union.

But when he pays his last respects to Mrs. Coleman, his foster mother, he finds out that her death is being investigated as a homicide. And he's the prime suspect.

Jesse's life is getting complicated fast, what with a group of religious fanatics in saffron robes opening a tabernacle in the abandoned pizza parlor over his apartment, problems at work, and Kelly's custody battle with her ex. It's a lot to deal with while he tries to find out who really killed Mrs. Coleman and get the cops off his back.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

GUEST BLOG: PAUL STANSFIELD

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Since camping, and campers, are a major part of my novella, Dead Reckoning, I thought I’d tell the story of my first camping trip. My immediate family is decidedly non-outdoorsy, due to growing up in cities or suburbs, and because of our bad allergies to pollen. Therefore, on our family trips (and there were many—my dad was a geography professor) we often visited outdoor sites, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Everglades, but we always overnighted in hotels, or if we were feeling rustic, furnished cabins. Since my father had hated his summer camps as a child, there was no pressure to go to these. No scouting trips, either, as I dropped out just before Webelos (off the topic, but can you believe, in this day and age, that they still use this embarrassing name?), and the Cub Scouts didn’t camp.

Well, of course I went into a type of work, field archaeology, that entails working outside every day (yes, despite my faulty immune system—I never said I was smart). On one of these jobs, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, I finally went on my first camping trip. It was a fairly long ride to Big South Fork National Recreation Area (in Tennessee), so we didn’t arrive until after dark, and after a quick meal we got on the drive. Because of this, we decided to forgo a hike, and camp just off one of the roads. We set up our tents (I recall attempting to help, but I doubt I was very useful), and because we were young archaeologists, started drinking heavily. I unfortunately over indulged, and therefore spend most of the night passed out near the campfire (although I did manage to trounce my friends at poker, which doesn’t speak well about their gambling abilities). My designated tent mate probably thought he’d made out well, since he got his tent to himself for most of the night, but it did come at a price; instead of an alarm clock buzzing, he was awakened to the sound of me simultaneously peeing and puking outside the tent.

So technically the next night was my first authentic camping experience. After our hangovers had burned off we spent the day hiking. Which I recommend—Big South Fork was fun and very scenic. My friends made fun of my “backpack”—actually a soft travel bag with a strap—but it ended up working just fine. That night our campsite was a good mile or two into the wooded hills, near a stream. I participated in the more traditional camping activities this time—we cooked our dinner, cleaned up, and hid the remaining food from bears. We learned our lesson from the night before and made it an alcohol-free evening. As such my friend Bruce did have to share his tent, but didn’t have to watch his step while exiting the tent in the morning. It was a fun weekend. Friday night in the college-type, debauchery sort of way, and Saturday in an outdoorsy, actual camping way. I’ve camped a few times since, but I’m still definitely a novice.

Suffice it to say, the Luddite camper characters in my story would definitely be more adept living in the woods than me.

About the Author: I was born and raised in New Jersey, and graduated from Rutgers University. I work as a field archaeologist. When I’m not excavating prehistoric sites or exhuming graves, I enjoy writing, mostly in the horror/thriller/suspense genres. I’ve had short stories published by Bibliophilos, Mausoleum, Mobius, Ragshock, Morbid Curiosity, Generation X National Journal, Cthulhu Sex Magazine, Aoife’s Kiss, and Conceit. Dead Reckoning is my first published ebook. A second,“Kaishaku, is due out in late August, 2012, also with Musa Publishing. http://paulstansfield.blogspot.com/.


Kurt Minnifield is a fledging actor playing a zombie in a low budget horror movie. The director and crew decide to move their shooting to lovely and isolated Watkins State Park… only they don’t get proper permission.

Victor Newsome is a thirteen year old trying to both shed his nerdy image and learn outdoor skills at a special survival camp. After teaching the boys how to make shelter and kill their own food, the counselors decide to take a day trip to the neighboring state park—Watkins.

A series of ethical lapses, poor decisions, and bad luck lead to a colossal misunderstanding. Violence erupts as both sides fight desperately against a dangerous set of foes. Who will be more savage—the literal “monsters,” or the boys equipped with deadly weapons, and the knowledge of how to use them?

Monday, July 2, 2012

GUEST BLOG: MARTIN BODENHAM

Publishing and Private Equity appear to have a lot in common


I am the CEO of a London-based private equity business, a day job that keeps me busy. After working many hours late into the night, finally, early last year, I managed to finish my first novel. Then I spent months polishing the manuscript before setting out to find a publisher willing to take on my shiny new thriller. Of course, I’d read how difficult it was to find a publisher for a first time novel and so braced myself for months of submissions followed by impersonal rejection letters.

An author friend explained how agents and publishers are inundated with submissions every day so I knew I had to make my work stand out somehow. In private equity, a firm like my own will receive hundreds of investment enquiries a year. I asked myself what it was that made an investment deal stand out for me as the recipient. I concluded that three things made the difference and made me want to take the deal further: money, market and management. I wondered whether I could apply these same criteria to my approaches to publishers. Here’s what I did:

Money

I spelled out in my submission why I thought there was a gap in the market and why I believed there would be a decent audience for my thriller which is based in the world of investment banking. I kept it short and related my novel to the public’s increasing interest in the financial crisis, giving my book a contemporary impression. This meant the publisher could judge whether or not there was money to be made by taking on my book.

Market

I stressed how I was reasonably well known in the private equity community and how this community was likely to include many potential buyers of my book. I wanted the publisher to see how I would be able to market my novel to an existing platform of warm contacts. It also showed the publisher that I understood how authors are equally responsible for marketing their work and that I was not going to leave this up to them.

Management

In my submission pack, I included a short bio, concentrating on my background in the financial markets. This enabled the publisher quickly to understand that I knew my subject matter well and that the financial background to the book had credibility.

What happened? Well, I approached one UK publisher and one in the US. I thought there was merit in limiting it to two in the first instance. I planned to learn from them, and revise my submission based on any feedback, before approaching others. You can imagine how amazed I was when, within twenty four hours of receiving my email, I received a request for the full manuscript from the US publisher. Two days later I received a contract for the book!

Martin will be giving away an autographed copy of The Geneva Connection to one of his newsletter subscribers the end of next month. About the Author:
Martin Bodenham is the author of THE GENEVA CONNECTION. In his long career as a private equity investor, Martin has witnessed investment banking's greed and fear at first hand, providing plenty of dramatic material for his financial thriller novels. Much like Grisham does with legal thrillers, Martin sets his fast-paced plots against the real world backdrop of international finance, giving his stories authenticity and depth.

Martin is the CEO of a London-based private equity firm. He lives in Rutland, England's smallest county.

Details on his writing can be found at: www.MartinBodenham.com



Brilliant investor John Kent is living his dream. The success of his private equity firm has propelled him into the ranks of the world's super-rich, allowing him to give his family the security and advantages he hadn't known in his own childhood.

But John's dream is shattered with the discovery that his largest investor is bankrolled by the most vicious drug cartel in Mexico. Then one of his partners is murdered to guarantee his silence, and John realizes he cannot go to the authorities.

When the ambitious head of the DEA threatens John with incarceration, his nightmare is complete. If he resists the DEA, what will happen to his family while he's imprisoned? But the alternative is worse. For if John chooses to betray the cartel, he and his family might pay the ultimate price.