Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday Musings: July 20 2014

I've heard this asked before in other venues, so the Musers are giving it a shot:

Going back to yourself at age 13-17, what would you tell your younger self?

Me? ChrisChat

 Don't fight your emotions. Own and acknowledge them. Don't just listen to your parents and grandparents...HEAR them. It's true, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and rest assure everyone else around you is just as confused, scared, and mixed up. Then again, don't change one thing. To change one thing is to change your future and guess what, your future is pretty dang great!


Accept yourself. Listen to your inner voice, and don't dismiss the words that are annoying, uncomfortable, or go against what someone else thinks is right. Don't dismiss the possibilities-- don't limit your imagination.

I was totally clueless at that age, and young for my age. To be fair, I grew up in a different time -- the Stonewall riots were the year I graduated college. I was in college before I had a clue I liked girls as well as boys, and years after that to acknowledge I preferred them.

Open your eyes is what I'd say to my younger self.


What would I tell my younger self?

1. Know that there is a bigger world than the tiny hamlet you were raised in. This means that, just because you do not see writers in the houses around you, does not mean you cannot become one. Believe. Write. Write some more. Look outward and study what you see.

2. Know that just because you were raised in poverty does not mean that this is your fate. You are smart and hard-working, so many more things are possible than you can imagine. And you can actually influence that.

3. Know that you can rise above. Hardship is merely a life lesson, if you can find your way to the other side of it.

And if I could keep Younger Me's attention, I'd add: Stop wasting your nickels and dimes on junk food! Save a bit.

DAWN KNOX, author

Well, I'd say this:

"I know you find the idea of growing up scary and beyond imagining but the world isn't full of infallible adults, like you think. It's full of large children, who are mostly trying to do their best. And as such, you will have a place amongst them. You will make mistakes, like everyone else and that's fine. Better than that, making mistakes is good. It means you've tried. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Don't see them as failures that inhibit you. See them as opportunities. In fact, see everything in your life that at first sight appears to be negative as an opportunity for good. The way you view something determines what it actually is - look at a disadvantage as if it is an advantage and that's what it will become.

Take part. Take control. And if something is not as you would have hoped, change it if you can. If not, view it differently so you see its positive aspects."

Sadly, I know the 13-17 me wouldn't have taken in a word of this!

MEG AMOR, author

What I'd tell my 13-17 year old self is to Go for Gold.

Believe you can do anything and you can.
The world's your oyster.
Take more chances.
Travel every time you have money to spare—it's more important than a new couch. 
Never say no to anything you're offered. Who knows where it may lead.
Go with your feelings, trust them.
Don't eat dairy food—it's bad for your brain chemistry
Realize you're pretty and not unattractive, like you think you are
Realize you have a good brain—use it
Apply to be a flight attendant—the lifestyle will suit you. You'll love it.
Know that no matter what you decide on, you'll do it. Flight attendant or wine maker, you can do any of it. University would have been easy for you.
Realize you're a good person. Pick better men to go out with.
Explain your horizons even more than you think you can
Know that being different is actually an asset
Celebrate your exuberance, never lose it.
People actually like you. Be confident in yourself.

Oh, the list could go on. I did all sorts of crazy wonderful things when I was younger, but I wish I'd done a hell of a lot more. I wish I'd trained as a flight attendant. Later I probably would have trained earlier as a pilot and flown commericially.

Thanks and aloha Meg

Thinking back about myself at those ages I would probably say that you should forget what other people say and just do and say what you want. Don’t try so hard, because you don’t need to do that. Your writing is better than you think it is now. Be happy writing comes easy to you. It doesn’t happen that way for most people. You won’t believe it, but you will have not only one but two published books later in your life. Though you don’t think you will attract anyone, you will actually meet the man you will marry at 17. Of course, you won’t realize this until a few years later.

Study more in college and don’t play so much bridge and hang out with your friends. You need to have a higher average to do well in life. You don’t care about this now, but it will play a part in your life later on and you will be sorry you didn’t study more when you were younger. Though you will go back to school and become a Reading Specialist when you are older and have taught for years. At this time you will also realize that what you really want to do is write and you will start your first novel there.

Above all try to look at the world and accept yourself for who you are. Right now you feel ugly and unloved, but that is going to change and you are going to have a great and varied life with a family and two beautiful daughters. Keep on your path and don’t let anyone make you feel you are any less than you are no matter who they are. Always try to see life as beautiful and appreciate all that you have.

Ah, where do I begin? That chat could be ongoing and endless!
Some things will work out, others, not the way you hoped.
Persevere and keep smiling.

JAMI GRAY, author

Me now--"Want to take your head out of that book for a second?"

Young me--"Is it important?"

Me now--"Depends on how you take it."

Young me--*rolling eyes, almost literally* "Could you be any more emo?"

Me now--"I could, but I won't, just listen up."

Young me--*making a showing of closing book* "Fine, you have my attention."

Me now--"Look, I know things have been rough--new family, new city, new school--but I promise, this weird feeling of being out of step, it's normal. Do me, well you, a favor, don't worry about being different, you're going to own that soon."

Young me--*shoulders stiffening, lips thinning into mutinous lines*

Me now--*stepping in before YM's mouth opens* "All of this...everything you've survived, there's a reason you're still here. You're stronger than you know. And that young man who makes you laugh and forget, you'll want to be nicer to him. He's going to be around awhile."

Young me--*puzzled and a little panicked*  "I have plans, they don't include guys. I'm getting out of here and I'm going to do things, go places."

Me now--*secret smile* "Don't worry you will, just not the way you think. So here's what I want you to hold on to--those dreams you're hiding about writing, having a family, trying new things--it's going to happen. Don't rush it, enjoy the journey.  And while you're out there making your mark, don't forget who you are, not who you want everyone to see, who you are. The only person who has to accept you, is the one staring back at you from the mirror."  *Goes to leave*

Young me--*anxious and worried* "Wait, can I ask you something?"

Me now--"You can ask, but I might not answer."

Young me--"Is it worth it?"

Me now--"Hell, yeah it is. Every damn moment is worth it."


I'd tell myself it's okay not to have all the answers. It's okay to change your mind about what you want to do in the future (heck, by the time you hit 35, you won't even be working in the same profession as what your degree is in, and that's okay, too.)  Don't get hung up on the guys, there is one out there for you, and he's awesome. Have fun, try new things, and live life to the fullest.

To my younger self, "Remember and never forget, money is everything. Money makes all things possible. This is not a cynical attitude or belief. It is reality. In your distant unemployed future, the Army's Defense Finance and Accounting Service will sit on your paperwork proving they owe you 3-months retirement backpay, because they can. You will become destitute, borrowing hundreds of dollars from family and friends just to survive. Because you will be unemployed and have no money you will not be able to lend a hand to your future homeless grandchildren in Hawaii who will be spending their second night in the family van, after the engine caught fire. The third night your future grandchildren, ages 2, 4, and 5 years old, along with two older siblings, will finally have a place in a homeless shelter. So NEVER, NEVER, NEVER forget, money is everything, and money makes all things possible."

What would I tell my younger self?

Keep on writing even if you're not selling at the moment and maybe won't sell anything for quite a while.  It's telling the story inside you that's important.  Besides, the only way to learn how to write really well is by writing.

I'd say to get that day job and do your utmost in it.  Never slight your family and friends, animals included.  Use your spare time to write.  The discipline you'll acquire will be invaluable in every aspect of your life.

Daydream about those wonderful things you know you are not likely to have.  Work for those dreams that can be achieved, even those that seem far beyond you at the moment.

Keep yourself open to love, and never lose the wonder and excitement of the creation around you.

At 13, I was dealing with a lot of emotions, mostly about how I could appear cool and still do the things that I enjoyed – reading outside what girls were expected to read and what I wanted to read, and writing stories. I’d tell my younger self to ignore the rest of the world and do what felt good, to reach for the stars no matter what others thought. To develop a persona that was completely me instead of trying to be like everyone else. Whether or not I listened to myself is up for grabs. Back then, being part of a group was pretty important, but so were my dreams.

Comments to myself at 17.

You are thin. You don’t have to lose weight now. Enjoy.

Love yourself. You’re not perfect, but you’re never going to be perfect. What you can be is the very best YOU in the world.

You have many lives ahead of you. Enjoy each one. Even those that seem a mistake at the time. You’ll learn from those mistakes and be able to help others from them.

People are going to love you. Don’t fear that you’ll be alone or unloved.

Don’t be afraid to try. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll learn and grow from the experience.

Working hard is important, but so is playing hard. Don’t work all the time. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect.

Oh, the places you will go. The people you will meet. What a life you have ahead of you! More blessings than you can imagine!

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Friday, July 18, 2014

99 Cents - This Weekend ONLY!

We have 4 amazing novels priced at ONLY .99 cents this weekend, available at Amazon and MuseItUp Publishing: Specials end midnight Sunday, July 20.

Across four millenna, Turtan, our greatest hero, battles to save all humanity from invincible aliens. 

Thanks to suspended animation, Turtan is over 3500 years old and travels on freeze ships to distant worlds.  His mission is to investigate weapons to help humanity turn the tide against their ancient nemesis…the Cenknife. Vicious aliens, the Cenknife seek to conquer the universe and enslave humanity.
When Turtan discovers just such a weapon, a beautiful, seductive woman stands in his way.  He must use all his skills, abilities, and courage to meet the crisis and save untold billions of lives.

Inspector of the Cross by John B. Rosenman
Sci-Fi Action Adventure
Retails $5.95
Now ONLY 0.99
Available at MuseItUp  and  Amazon

A reverse Sleeping Beauty tale where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince. 

Princess Kaylee has never had to fight for anything. Her entire life has been arranged, even her marriage. But when Prince Devlin falls under an enchantment, she finds she is willing to do anything to save him, even if it means fighting a dragon.
Devlin's own sister, Princess Arabella, is behind the deadly plot. She wants the throne and will use any means necessary to gain it. Her perfect plan unravels, leaving Devlin caught in a magical sleep that is slowly spreading through the kingdom of Breniera. All Arabella needs to finish her spell and claim the crown is a drop of Kaylee's blood, but obtaining the single drop is proving more difficult than expected.
To save her betrothed, Kaylee embarks on a quest to find an ancient sword and gather a drop of dragon's blood, while trying to stay out of Arabella's traps. But Arabella's traps aren't the only danger. Time is everything. For once the last inhabitant of the kingdom falls asleep, the spell will be sealed, and not even true love's kiss will break it

Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel
YA Fantasy
Retails $5.50
Now ONLY 0.99
Available at MuseItUp  and  Amazon 

Teaming with her brother’s former homicide detective partner to stop a blackmailer, Meg hadn’t expected to fall in love. 

     Needing a peaceful Christmas visit with her Fort Worth family, Meg Bourland is shocked to discover someone is blackmailing her father. When he rebuffs her offer to help, the Atlanta SWAT team member enlists her LA police officer brother and his former partner to uncover the truth. She fights her attraction for Scott and the immediate tug to her heart cause by his sacrifice. But her life is in Atlanta, and his is in California.

Truth Be Told by Marsha R. West
Romantic Suspense
Retails $5.95
Now ONLY 0.99
Available at MuseItUp  and  Amazon 

Jill Barlow flees after husband & father are murdered. The syndicate will kill again for the damning evidence she possesses. 
Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders, but can’t find proof.
Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town.
Considering buying a crystal store, Jill is surprised by the attraction she feels for the owner’s son. A Vermont State Assemblyman, Jerrod Phillips, seems to resent her presence in his town.
A terrifying series of break-ins shatter her peaceful new life. Jill shields her adult children from the knowledge violence continues to stalk them.
Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, Jill will be required to make more sacrifices.

 Vermont Escape by Marsha R. West
Romantic Suspense
Retails $5.95
Now ONLY 0.99
Available at MuseItUp  and  Amazon


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shadows of New York

Shadows of New York by Heather Fraser Brainerd and David Fraser is now available to pre-order on Amazon.
Cover Designer: Celairen

Josh Cooper is surprised when his new nanny is a dude. How'll he handle learning he's also a werewolf?

If yo
u have a middle grader/tween who loves weres/vampires...then Shadows of New York, releasing September 15 is the perfect fall read.

Save and pre-order today on Amazon

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sunday Musings: July 13 2014

Someone once told me they do not have any expectations concerning anyone. Therefore they can never be disappointed. For me that's completely sad. Maybe even a cop-out.

We all have expectations. I expect a whole boatload regarding my hubby, child, mom, and even myself.

But, as an author what do we expect of ourselves? Our self-expectations in the totality of our writing and its business.

With every hat I wear, it is expected I will be fair and honest, open, professional, worthy of the trust placed in me. Humble and apologetic when required. When I write, well, that's actually harder to pin down. I'm very aware that sometimes stepping outside of the now and looking at the larger scene will revamp my direction.

I also know my Muser Family have worded their thoughts much clearer than I have...let the Musings begin:

Yes, this is a tough question that I rarely ask myself when I write. I started writing because I had something to say and it wouldn’t stay inside of me. If only that could happen I wouldn’t now have one published book and another one coming out in the fall plus short stories and tons of poetry both published in anthologies and online. Writing is really the goal of my writing. That is not easy, because I do expect to be paid for some of it. When you work on a novel the amount of time you spend on it deserves some kind of payment. However, I didn’t write them for payment. I wrote them because they tore at my insides and had to come out in words.

No one who is not a writer understands this. I would love to have bestsellers and I try to promote my books as much as I can, but the marketing of my books is not fun for me. I just like to talk with people about them and then they come alive for the people and for me. They are the culmination of both my ideas and my editors’ ideas and I always hope that they will get great sales. But the sales as I said aren’t the reason I wrote them.

I guess I like the title of author. When I was younger I was in awe of anyone who had a published book. To meet a real author was such a big deal and to have them sign the book I was going to read was even bigger. Then I became an author and I saw the spark in people’s eyes as they met me. I was still me, but I was also an author. I like that feeling and really for me it is better than the money. Yes, I would love to be a rich and famous author, but I think I would still write if the inspiration hit me. As I used to say in my bio, writing is my life.


Writing for me has always been second nature, I've done it since the age of four, just scribbles I'd read back to my little sister. Although I used to spend days and even months on this habit of mine, I only recently got serious about publishing, something I'm still learning about.

Now, I write every morning for about two hours. It's different now that I actually write things worth reading (An area I'm working on more and more, still learning this, too.) Now writing is more constant for me, even with my other life things. Yes, sometimes I get discouraged, like when I can't come up with the right wording for the next section. I have my doubts but then it hits me, people are paying to read my stories. That is very cool, it really helps me get motivated to focus.

I'll write, always have. even if no one buys these words I put down on paper and screen.

I've always told myself stories, and I've written poetry for years, but it never occurred to me to write any of them down until around 2005 or so. My goal -- my expectation -- of myself as a writer is to make what ends up on the page as true to my internal vision as I can make it.

I'm not much of a plotter. I usually have a sense of the arc of my story, its ending and high points, but not so much of what happens in between and less of how its going to happen. A lot of what goes into my first drafts is teasing out what's rolling around in my head and getting it more-or-less onto the page. Then I need to go back and revise, because now I can see the whole of the story and how all the parts fit together.

Voice, language, grammar, word choice, and the voices of the individual characters are all very important to me. I hear and see my characters in my head. When I'm working on a scene, I'll see it unrolling on a sort of mental movie screen. After I run it, so I know what's going on, I go and write it down.

For anything I write about, I need to know enough about it to be able to picture it in my head. This goes right down to the floor plan of the houses my characters inhabit and the furniture in their rooms. It may not end up in the book, but I need to picture exactly where the kitchen is or I can't start to write.

I write because once I get a story, I have to tell it.  I strive to make each book/story better than those that came before, but I also play with different settings and ideas, whatever works best for the individual tale.  As for the writing business, I would still be writing even if I were selling nothing, but I want my work published, and I want to be paid for it.  I want the respect for it that professional status entails.  On the practical side, I can truly use the money, and I greet those royalty checks with great affection.


When I write, its because I have stories or images in mind that yearn to be shared. I love to share these ideas and have others experience them.  The magic of writing comes both in the initial drafting, and then in the moment a reader responds. 

However, I have to confess, now that I'm published it becomes frustrating trying to weigh the excitement of writing against the difficulties of marketing.  I'm not looking for piles of money, after all I, like most authors here, work another job. Yet, I do love the idea of more people experiencing my visions, and sharing in the dreams I've placed on paper (or ebook).  One challenge for me is to write purely for the joy of knowing that the ideas are going out into the world, and someday my children will pick them up and see the worlds I've created.


Wow, this is a loaded question!

For me, it’s giving myself permission to say ‘no’ to those who make unrealistic demands on my time or that don’t ‘get’ why it’s so important for me to write.  There’s something empowering about this and it helps me feel like a professional instead of a wannabe writer.  I schedule in my writing time and found that I thrive at local coffee houses.  Give me an ice tea latte, a booth, and my iPod with a Playlist that reflects my characters, and I’m in heaven.

It really depends on which project I’m working on on what I’ll listen to while writing.  For my current thriller, the one love interest loves country music.  I’m not a huge fan but this music speaks to my character and I’m better able to see inside his head.  I also use Pinterest to post iStock photos and other things that help me with my projects.

I also include reading as an important part of writing.  I try to read books outside my usual comfort zone.  Right now it’s been biographies and memoirs.  I love a good historical novel too.

Writing is a huge part of who I am.  If I don’t write for a length of time, it’s like being parched on a summer day.  Without daily writing, my stories wither up and die.  Not good!

On the business side of writing, I’ve realized it’s okay to not ‘force’ a story or stress out if I don’t have a book come out every year or so.  It’s like Liz, my one UCI creative writing teacher, told me, “It’s better to not be published, then to be published badly.”  So very true!

I've loved to write for a long time, though I'm also the kind of person who "likes to write what she likes to write", which is usually just fantasy. What I expect of myself is to capture the things that I am passionate about and craft them into a story. When I write, I take myself on a journey and try to convey that to others, so they can experience what I do when I write. Although I usually plan out the major details, I tend to figure out much more along the way than I would have expected. I never know ahead of time what little details will crop up, so it really becomes an adventure.

I don't really hold myself to expectations with respect to publishing, though I obviously try to be successful in this so people can read my stories. So the major expectation that I hold myself to is to know that I've told a good story. Something that's worth the reader's time, that's worth my time, and something that can have the potential to change others and myself. It's a part of my life that I would never choose to live without.


For me, writing is much like reading.  The big difference is I get to create - not just be a part of the story.  It is my escape from reality - it's FUN.  I become what I've always wanted - or go places - own things - etc.  It's artistic expression with intrinsic motivation.  Its a form of release.

Also, I want to "plant seeds of thought".  I love to be positive, and I love adventure.  This may be silly, but I'm a Harry Potter fan and have been moved many times by inspirational words portrayed in the stories.  I want to be able to do that for someone else - I would love to inspire others as J.K. Rowling inspires me.  I would love to be paid for doing what I love to do - making my time spent not seem so wasteful - as we all know, time is money - but many spend money on what they love anyway!  The marketing is the overwhelming aspect for me. 

DAWN KNOX, author

My main expectation of myself as a writer is that I don't offend although it sounds rather negative to describe my aspirations in terms of something I don't want to do.  I could have said that as a writer, I expect to entertain, amuse, uplift or move a reader - and of course, I desperately want to do those things but I don't want to cause offence in any way. If someone invests time in reading something I've written, I'd hate them to arrive at the end and feel they've been cheated or had their time wasted because they considered my story was dull. Or indeed, that the language or subject matter was inappropriate.

I would love to think I've crafted a story so skillfully, the reader felt it had been time well spent in finishing it. I'd also love to think it didn't need to contain shocking material to be enjoyable. That may sound rather old fashioned and of course, there's room for all sorts of writing and all sorts of tastes. But for me, if I don't think my mum would like it, I don't write it!

I began (with historical romances) because I’d been researching a particular historical period and influential woman of the time and I think someone asked me what I intended doing with it all. That planted the seed and so I “had a go” just to see if I could do it. The “strapline” to my blog on my website says “an author’s progress” and I guess that about sums it up. I want to be improving all the time - which is where editorial input from other people is such a good teaching agent, as well as reading lots of other writers’ works. Having come quite late to this art I want to try different genres and styles of writing as to voice, tense and aspects like doing humour without forcing it. That’s from the output side. From the marketing side I probably need to do more to connect with readers who will enjoy reading my work (some royalties would be nice!). Unlike some, this is a part-time activity for me since, though retired, I have quite a lot of local commitments demanding attention most weeks.

Self expectations.

A few years ago, when I was writing The Natasha Saga my goal was to write something worthy of being published. Mission accomplished. I can google my name and it appears on a publisher's site.
Now I have to take the next step. My next goal/expectation is to grow and develop as an author. I compare myself to person in school. I've worked with 4 editors during my time at Muse so I've passed the primary grades and secondary school. I'm heading to "university" where I hope to mature as writer, under the guidance and scrutiny of my editors. Thank you Muse for putting me and my work in front of your talented team. I certainly appreciate their patience and knowledge. I've been told my growth is obvious as people finish reading all four books in the saga. That makes me proud.

Marketing is another facet of the job, but it's harder to measure. My goal is to improve my marketing. Most authors market through social media, and other methods we think of. Ideally, we need to send each person that pushes that 'buy now' button a little survey that asks how they found out about the book. Without that, we don't know where our time is best spent. It's difficult marketing something so personal, but this challenge will not get the best of me. I will persevere.

JAMI GRAY, author

A loaded question.

When I first sat down to write, the expectation was simple--I wanted to be an author, preferably published. It wasn't until I achieved my first contract, that I realized there was more to it. Now with two series out, my expectations are more detailed:

--write compelling stories, ones that will drag readers in and suck them down. Just like the ones I grew up reading.

--challenge myself every time I start a new title. What am I struggling with--character motivation, voice, point of view, a certain character type--whatever it is, it's my focus for the next project.

--learn, all the time. Poke my head out of my rabbit hole and look around. What's going on in the writing world? What are other writers struggling with? How are they battling their challenges? Will some of their options set me on the right path for my upcoming skirmishes?

--grow, push my writerly boundaries until I squirm. If I don't stretch, my writing will become stale. If my stories become stale, I'm doing something wrong.

For the business side, this is a constant struggle. Like many, many writers, along with crafting stories, I have a family to herd along life's path and a job that keeps those pesky bill collectors at bay, not to mention all the normal stresses life sends your way. So carving out vital time to address the business side of my craft has become as important as carving out writing time.  I do a lot of listening to the experiences of others, trying to determine if what worked for them will work for me. Then, I've been brutally shoved out of my introvert comfort zone to "market" myself. Seriously, such action generally produce hives. But it's necessary and vital because readers have a plethora of fantastic authors to choose from, and perhaps I can lure them my way, but only if they hear about me.  On the flip side, the writing community is one of the best at support, so I'm a firm believer if you want to get your name out there, you need to return the favor with  your fellow writers. Good karma pays off. Plus, if you come across approachable, readers are more likely to reach out. They're just as shy as writers most times, but if they're brave enough to reach out, I'm right there with a smile, because it's admirable.

One of the best things I ever read about writer marketing--the best way to sell yourself? Write. The more great books you put out there, the more likely you are to succeed.

My expectations of myself as a writer are this: Keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting it to good use. Never be afraid to seize the moment and never stop dreaming. Seeing my work published has been one of my dreams, and now that it's a reality, I want to see it continue. My next book is always going the best I’ve ever written, because I don't ever want to stop improving.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at