Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Character vignette: Polydeukes, from Dioscuri (YA Urban Fantasy novella)

What is the price of a war against the immortal gods?

Hey, folks, pleasure to meet you. Let me introduce myself. I’m Pol, short for Polydeukes, the handsome. Heh. Okay, it was fun seeing you roll your eyes, now to business.

I’m twenty, male, Greek and twin brother of Kast, short for Kastor. We’re both Zeus’ sons, so they call us Dioscuri. It all makes sense in Greek, I swear.

Then again, you’ll have to take my word for it, won’t you – like the fact that I’m a handsome SOB.

Now, my life would have been perfect here in Athens – good food, pretty chicks, ouzo and smashing plates in the dance clubs – if it wasn’t for a couple of little problems.

One, the ancient Greek gods (and goddesses, ahem) have returned and want their territory back. A war has started between the mortals and the immortals – a war of life or death, playing out in every street and neighborhood.

Second, the war has just claimed my brother’s life. He died in battle, fighting, trying to save me.

Kast didn’t know that unlike him, I’m immortal. I never told him. I thought I could protect him. Turns out I was wrong.

But I’m not crying, am I? I’m not weeping and tearing my hair out. Wanna know why?

Because I brought him back. I made a deal with a god and brought Kast back to life. We alternate days alive, and I pretend to be Kastor, so nobody will know the truth. It helps that we’re identical twins, nobody can really tell us apart.

Kast doesn’t know about any of this, and can’t find out, because the deal will be off. But, damn it, he seems to suspect something. Could my perfect imitation of him have a flaw? I’m doing my best to sound shy and moody, like he is most of the damn time.

Now if Zeus finds out, it’s a different story. He’ll go bonkers. An angry father of the gods can be a major pain in the butt. He’ll force me to break the deal and send Kast to Hades, the world of the dead.

I can’t allow that. Uh uh, sorry, dad. Got your handsome face, but thankfully also mom’s brains. I’ll find a solution that will allow Kast and me to be together again – brothers and best friends.

At least I hope so. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kylie Watson's in town...

Hello, there. My name is Kylie Watson, Kylie Anne Watson. It’s good to be here at the MuseItUp blog and nice to meet you all. I received a note from Karen McGrath last week that you want to speak with me.
It’s quite interesting she’s been writing about my journey to the Amazon. The river is a powerful place. It has a way of changing you and forcing things to the surface. I don’t recommend the climate though, very muggy and the bugs, well, need I say more?

I love this blog business. I’m an attorney here in Boston, MA, one of the rising new talents on the block but my emotional life is a wreck. Who cares when you can pay off the college loans, right? It would be nice to stop crying for a moment or two, however. I miss my parents dearly.

They are, were, missionaries in Brazil, local celebrities here in Bean Town and far south in the Amazonas. Their plane crashed in the basin killing everyone on board, they didn’t have a chance in those primitive conditions...forgive me for carrying on so. Since I’ve been trained in all things missions at my mother’s knee, the Alliance Board wants me to take their place in Manaus. I’m declining, of course. I left that lifestyle in my teens, preferring to shuffle between the homes of my two dearest pals, Sharra and Christopher here in the States while we went to school together. Chris and I mesh well. We had a relationship years ago but we…well, in the courtroom I can pull information out of a witness in a heartbeat, but ask Chris why we stopped dating, umm… it won’t happen. Sometimes it seems like those two are my surrogate parents, I’m far too needy.

I’ve received an invitation to speak to the grieving churches at Mumsy and Ham’s memorial service in Brazil. What shall I say to them, you knew my parents better than I? No, that won’t do, true as it may be. I have to close up the house where I spent my childhood. I’m sure I’ll see Jose again. We were high school sweethearts but he’s involved in church work now and that has no appeal for me. And he’s too intense about everything. The whole cultural wife and mother thing isn’t really me. Not that I don’t ever want to do that, but not right now, not with him, not that he’d ask me, and not that I’d say yes. This is why I’m a lawyer…

Oh, I almost forgot…someone is stalking me. The detective said it may be nothing and I’m inclined to agree but a number of unusual things have happened. This strange little man came to the service for my parents in Cambridge wearing red pants, who does that? He ran when security tried to catch him. The detective is hiding something that has nothing to do with the police force. And Matthew, my office crush, is ignoring me, which has nothing to do with the stalker.

Sometimes I know things but I don’t know what they mean, part of that talent I mentioned earlier or my denial. Denial is a wonderful thing, it keeps me on an even keel. I just can’t stop the nightmares, and they are coming true right before my eyes. Where does God figure into all of this? I’ve no clue, but I have to be where Mumsy and Ham were before, well, before...the crash…regardless of my distaste for the missionary field.

Now you know quite a bit about me, as much as anyone else in my life. I think I’m an open book. The Amazon is layered with secrets but it’s the one place I’m not so inclined to unravel everything; is that denial kicking in, or dislike for my parent’s work? Maybe it’s good sense.

I like that line of Karen’s, ‘Do you want the truth, or something you can live with?’ I’ll take the truth in the courtroom any day, but when all is said and done, I want something I can live with, that works for me. Reality is over-rated.

I’ve got a client on the line so I’ll see you in April for Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon. It’s been a pleasure and if you need a lawyer in Boston, feel free to look me up. This is Kylie Watson signing out.

Karen, Please tell your friends to leave comments for me below and I’ll answer. I have a question about paragraph three in the fourth chapter. I wanted to say something else there…can you add it in? Call my secretary for book two. I’m ready, well, as ready as I’ll ever be. KW

Photo credit: Boston & Sun by Erica McGrath, banner by Elizabeth McGrath, Brazilian beach by morguefile.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crewkin by Rhobin Courtright has a cover!

Crewkin by Rhobin L. Courtright
Sci-fi Space Opera
Cover Artist: Delilah K. Stephans
Coming: February 2011 by MuseitUp Publishing

The Heart's Lone Desire on Facebook

Dear fellow authors and readers,

Perhaps it's a bit early for me to plug my novel, but I've created a facebook group named after my first novel's title (The Heart's Lone Desire). The page is somewhat sparse, containing only the plot (and comments of encouragement from some dear friends!) but I will be adding information about the main characters and the ominous heart itself in the coming weeks, and once the front cover has been designed I hope to post this online as well. I'd appreciate it if people could join and help the group expand from its current meagre size of 3 members (including myself, LoL). Of course, if any of you authors have your own facebook groups to promote your own work, just post a message somewhere in my group and I'll gladly jion :)

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Nicolai Due-Gundersen

PS: Here is the link for my Facebook page:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hi everyone!

I've already introduced myself to the yahoo groups so I guess the Muse it Up blog is next :). To give a brief overview of myself: I'm of Eurasian descent but grew up in merry old England (as Marian Evans/ George Eliot would phrase it), and am currently studying English Literature at the University of Oslo. Why study English Literature at a Norwegian university? you ask. To save m-o-n-e-y. That being said, I am trying to transfer back to England for my final year, and will then round off my education in Switzerland with a Master's in Corporate Communications.

I have two published works so far: Angel, published by (under the not-so-imaginative alias ND Gundersen (I thought it sounded cool at the time, okay); and my latest text is the Heart's Lone Desire, which will be published by Muse it Up Publishing some time in May 2011.

It's great to be a part of the muse team and I hope to get to know a few of my fellow authors (and readers!)


Meet Jade Carver of The Chameleon's Bite

Hello, I’m Jade Carver; former member of the Paranormal Assassins’ Guild, part goddess, part vampire and all round nice girl. I’m currently being pursued by a homicidal Chameleon that’s going around biting paranormals in order to consume their power. Being able to melt into the surroundings, the Chameleon can hide pretty much anywhere.  He’s given me a fright on more than one occasion, rising up out of the ground and appearing right in the middle of my living room. I know! Scary. I do have a secret weapon, however, in the form of an indestructible sword. Sounds good doesn’t it? And it is. It’s sharp and can cut through anything and, well, it can’t be destroyed. It’s great. When it shows up, that is. There have been many occasions when I’ve found myself reaching for my sword and coming up with nothing but air. Other times it appears when I really don’t want it to. The name says it all; Skraela Svero, or Screaming Sword. I know. Why couldn’t I have a weapon named Sweetly Singing Sword instead?

Mind you, I’ve been to some interesting places lately. Like Changeling City. Never heard of it? Neither had I. It’s a parallel city magically created by Changeling fairies. It’s become a place for the paranormal outlaws of the world to hide. It can be dangerous and magical, the perfect place for a psychotic Chameleon to hide. This is where I met Grand Master Vampire Hugo Vine, a vampire for whom even Master Vampires are slaves and mere vampires like me are cattle. For some reason this scary vamp has taken a liking to me.

I’ve also been to the Fairy Wildes; this is where the really bad fairies are sent for all eternity. I met a couple of Fire Dryads – these are basically tree fairies that can set an entire forest on fire. They like to burn people.

I’ve met some other . . . interesting people too. I’ve recently acquired a couple of houseguests: a newly turned pair of werewolves. Apart from ruining the furniture they could get me in a lot of trouble with my landlord. There’s also the witch Lucretia. She started out as a black witch but a run in with my sword kind of changed her. She’s a white witch now, though some part of her former self remains. I don’t entirely trust her.

Last but not least, there’s Dark-Elf assassin, Aeron Blake. I’m not sure how I feel about him. He’s tall and dark, with the greenest eyes you’ve ever seen and a six pack to die for . . . well you get the picture. He’s perfect for me. There’s just one slight problem. He was sent by the Paranormal Assassins’ Guild to kill me. Let’s face it. If I had a Facebook page my relationship status would read ‘it’s complicated’.

You’ll find my story in Erika Gilbert’s novel, The Chameleon’s Bite, coming out in 2011. Let’s hope she allows me to defeat the Chameleon. You never know, I might even find true love.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dear Muse:

By Terri Main

Dear Muse:

I regret to inform you that I am terminating your employment with my subconscious effective immediately. I'm sure you already know my reasons. However, I will remind you of them in case you are as oblivious as I sometimes suspect you are.

First is your inconsistent work ethic. I admit that, when you work, you do a bang up job. However, (and we both know this is true) you only work when you feel the spirit move you. And it doesn't move you often. I am trying to put out three novels and a half dozen short stories a year. That doesn't include the day to day writing. How can I do that, if you are constantly taking vacation days. Most of the time I sit down to write, and you are nowhere in sight. I wait for you, but you don't come. So, I can't get any work done. My productivity is severely impaired by your lackadaisical attitude toward this enterprise.

Secondly, you continually lead me down interesting, but generally unproductive, paths. Remember, that month you pushed me to write a story about a family of walruses who suddenly become royalty in a community of vampires. C'mon now. Did you really think that one would sell?

Finally, you have seemed to be a bit lacking in energy recently. You aren't giving me anything new. You keep wanting me to follow the leader, write what everyone else is writing, not step outside the box. You are, if you excuse the pun, just not very amusing anymore.

Therefore, I have to let you go. I wish you all the best. We have had some great times together, but I need someone to rely upon. And that is not you.

Your former employer

Dear Terri,

I was surprised, but generally relieved, to receive your letter terminating my employment with your subconscious. I, too, have had some enjoyable times, but lately the working conditions have not been the best.

You say I am inconsistent, but what about you. You only sit down to write when you have some time. You don't work on any regular schedule. Then you expect me to just jump up and be inspiring on a moments notice. It don't work that way. 

By the way, why can't you just work until I get there. I'm a few thousand years old. It takes me a while to get where I'm going. Just start typing, and I'll arrive.

Then, after we work together and have some fun, you go off and do something else. I don't see you for another six months. Then you want me to just pick up where we left off. I'm not even sure I remember where we left off.

You remember, I told you I was a slow starter. Usually, I have to see a bit where your thought processes are going before I jump in. We are in this together, you know. I may be your inspiration, but you are the scribe, you have to do the heavy lifting once I give you the ideas.

Okay, I admit I can be a bit flaky at times. I do love to give you ideas right as you are falling asleep at night. And I guess it is a bit annoying when I give you a great idea in the middle of a meeting. But a girl has to have some fun.  I told you to keep a pen and pad around to jot down those ideas. But do you? Noooooo!!!!

I also have one other complaint. You say I lack energy. I'm a growin' girl, you know. I need to be fed. Your meal plan started to get kind of stale. We used to feast on a variety of books, stories, articles. Now, you keep reading the same old stuff. Give me something new. Some avant guarde poetry. An 18th Century novelist, a bit of science fiction, mystery, romance. I know you are not a big fan of horror, but I love to taste new and different things.

So, while I wish we could have made things work out, I am relieved to be moving on. Of course, if you ever want to make some adjustments in the working conditions, give me a call. Maybe, we could work something out.

Your Former Muse.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jady: the Soulingas, describes the world of Rast and its troubles.

Christopher Hoare

Hello? I’m Jady, the prince’s sweetheart in the novel Rast. I assume you are all seeing my words by some unknown force of magic.

On my world, magic underlies almost everything. Sometimes benevolently, but often as an expression of hidden malevolence. No one can learn magic – it is a force of the world that few can control. If it were not for the Drogar, our sorcerer king, we would all be its playthings. The story of Rast that we tell depicts the peril ensuing when the magic overpowers and destroys the old Drogar, and the struggle of his heir, Prince Egon, to reassert control.

I will start by telling you a little about myself and my world. I inherited the duties of Guardian of the Silent Forest that stretches along the feet of the mountains toward the desert Skeletal. People call me the Soulingas as often as Jady. This name really means the descendants of Soule, but it’s applied to me because ever since my father and brothers were killed in battle in the forest I have been the last of the line.

Rast lies between the Foghead Mountains and the wide expanse of the Undulains that stretch seemingly forever eastwards, but actually as far as Easderly on the farther shore of the continent. Following the mountain chain south will take a traveller into unknown lands where Krachins have their nests – going north would take a venturous soul to the land of the North Folk, villianous people who act like mindless hoards under the influence of their Casket of Scrolls. The lands stretching west to the ocean are inhabited by our cousins the Mountlanders, dwellers in the crags, and the Fisher Folk living on the edge of the mighty ocean.

Three years ago, my family members were ambushed by Krachins and now lie restlessly in a tumulus beneath the bones of the enemies they tried to repel. If I have no powerful sons, the line of guardians will die out. As you will see in the story, my hope has always been to be the wife of Prince Egon, but the only son who can become his sorcerer heir must be born to a cousin, a princess of the royal family of Easderly. Everyone, even Egon, insists that I must be exiled to find a husband in a foreign land when Princess Agatha arrives.

Who could deny me the fury I feel as I ride eastwards across the Undulains? Egon would like to have been kinder, but beset by the rebellion of the magic and an invasion of the imperialist Offrangs in their iron galleys he has troubles enough. He even forgot to send an escort to guide the princess’s caravansi though the parched lands. I took it upon myself to supply that need – and to meet the haughty princess who seeks to replace me in his affections. Can it be that the scheming magic has decided to test who should bear Egon’s sons?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hobbyist or Pro

Terri Main

I've been writing  "professionally" for right at 40 years. I've taught several hundred writing students and have been on many writing oriented email discussion lists and forums. During that time, I have met two types of writers: Hobbyists and Pros.

This distinction has nothing to do with number of sales. Some who have yet to make their first sale, I would call a pro, and some who have sold a few things, I would still call a hobbyist.

No, it is an attitude and a way of approaching writing. Hobbyists enjoy writing, but they tend not to take it seriously. Pros do. There is nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, but a hobbyist cannot expect to sell consistently or garner much respect from the writing and publishing community. Still, as a hobby, there are worse ones than writing.

So you are asking, "What makes a pro?"

There seem to be five  characteristics of a writing Pro:

A Pro is Consistent. What would happen on your job if you only came in when you felt like it? How would your boss react if you said, "I just wasn't 'inspired' to sell shoes/teach math/treat patients etc."? You wouldn't even get away with that in the publishing business. I could not walk into one of the newspaper or radio stations where I worked and claim that my muse wasn't cooperating so I couldn't cover that city council meeting or write those commercials for that new client.

A pro is consistent. He or she writes when inspired and drags the words out of the depths of his or her intellect when not. A pro shows up to work every day. A pro commits to a job and carries it through. A pro can be counted on to deliver.

A Pro is Committed to Continuing Education. Would you want to go to a doctor who hadn't read a medical journal since graduation from medical school in 1975? Would you want to go to an attorney who said he believed that legal talent was enough, and he didn't  need law school? Professionals learn their craft and then they keep honing it. As Alexander Pope wrote:

True ease in writing comes through art not chance
As those move easiest who have learned to dance
There are many ways to learn your craft. There are good books to read on the art of writing. True many of them are contradictory, but that's part of any profession. Read critically. Read the arguments in favor and opposed to certain approaches and make your own decision.

Attach yourself to a mentor. Learn from someone who already knows the ropes.

Take classes. You can find them online, at your local community college, university, recreation department, community center and other great places.

A professional also commits to lifelong learning. What worked writing magazine articles in 1980 may not work writing e-zine articles in 2010. Stay current by reading the journals like Writer's Digest and The Writer. Check out good quality writing websites and blogs. Attend conferences (and for more than trying to get your fifteen minutes with an editor or agent.) If you can't make it in person, the internet can bring the conference to you. The Muse Online Conference and The Catholic Writers Conference Online  are two examples.

A Pro is Self Motivated.  Sometimes writing can be lonely. You sit in your office or den or the library typing away on your computer knowing that if you write two thousand words, one thousand of them will be garbage and have to be cut. You struggle to give a character life, only to kill that character in Chapter 25. You fear your well of ideas will run dry. And you struggle with all this alone.

People who don't do what we do can't understand what we do and why we do it. Some may be patronizing. Some may be awed. Some may be deprecating.  Few will understand. Don't get discouraged. Draw your strength from within. When you get those words just right, you know a feeling the others will never feel.

A Pro Works in Spite of Feelings. Right now, my back is aching, I have an earache, and I think I'm coming down with the flu. Nevertheless, I set out a goal to write the first draft of this article tonight. When I finish, I will crawl into bed, snuggle down under my covers and pamper myself.  Sometimes you have to resign yourself to writing a thousand words of drivel because that's how you warm up to writing the good stuff. Sometimes you just write because you have a goal set for the day and you push yourself to meet that goal. How you feel is irrelevant.

A Pro is Open to Competent Criticism.  Once I begin to consider myself perfect and my words sacrosanct, that's when I need to pack up my writing career. I have to understand that my vision is not always perfect. I have an editor at Muse It Up who is great at catching things I missed. I find myself slapping my forehead and saying, "Why didn't I see that?" Professional integrity is not the same as bullheaded stubbornness.You sacrifice nothing by listening to competent criticism. You gain much by taking it to heart.

It's okay to be a hobbyist. As a pastime, writing offers great opportunities for enjoyment and satisfaction. For some of us, though, that is not enough. We want to be professionals. That means, though, we have to stop acting like hobbyists.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dreaming of dragons

Did you ever wish that you could be something more than you are? I do. I'm a nothing, dumped at an orphanage as an infant with no idea who my parents were. Were they killed in some kind of accident? Was I stolen at birth? Are my parents out there somewhere, looking for me? I keep telling myself not to worry about it. If they really are out there somewhere, they'll find me, right? I don't have it so bad. I could be stuck at the orphanage, with all the other older kids. No one wants to adopt a teenager. They want the little ones with the angelic faces. But I'm not at the orphanage. They were able to send me to this school for psions. Of course, I think the fact that I broke more than a few windows helped their decision. I'm learning a lot here. The other students don't really talk to me much because I'm the top of the class.

The school is buzzing though now. It's the time of year when the Program comes to pick a student. No one know too much about the Program. It's some government thing, very secretive. All we know is that it has something to do with dragons and only psions are picked for it. They won't pick me though. Sure, I've got more talent in my pinkie than most of the others have in their whole bodies but I'm sure they don't want a girl with no past in their Program.

But wouldn't it be great if I was picked? LOL! Maybe I'd end up being different from all the other Links.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh, the pain!

My family barely notices the hours that I type

They hardly get excited, much less exhibit hype.

They never make a purchase of anything I penned

It’s not like they don’t have money, because I see them spend.

Don’t they feel my talent? Don’t they sense my pain?

Don’t they know their acknowledgment is all I seek to gain?

Do they think I’ve struck it rich or hit the lottery?

Cause when I mention what I wrote, they want to read for free.

I’ll never make a million; of that I’m really sure,

But just one call from Oprah could certainly be a cure.

It shouldn’t be so difficult to hear a little praise?

Would it be so awful to help my spirits raise?

If sis and bro and mother dear and the children of my blood,

Don’t care enough to support me; my name is surely mud!

If they won’t pull out their wallets to buy my latest pub,

Then surely I'm not destined for Ms. Winfrey's great book club.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Criminal Investigation in Off-World Cutures: A Lecture by Carolyn Masters

[Author's note: Carolyn Masters is the main character in my upcoming novel Dark Side of the Moon to be released February 2011. To keep up with Carolyn's life between now and then visit our Facebook Page. ]

"We are pleased to have a Quantico alumna speak to us today. As you have studied in class, Carolyn Masters, former FBI profiler and Michael Cheravik, formerly of the Dallas Police Department, were involved in the first murder investigation on the moon. Carolyn also received special commendation from the FBI for her role in thwarting a terrorist plot against Earth. In addition to her current position as a history professor at Armstrong University, she is on the provisional council overseeing the transition of the moon from an Earth colony to an independent state. Carolyn, the stage is yours."

Carolyn Masters, wearing a tweed suit, moved slowly across the stage of the auditorium-style classroom at the FBI academy. She lifted each foot accompanied by a painful grimace. Staggering the last few steps, she half-sat and half-fell into the wing back chair on stage. It was fitted with a nearly invisible microphone. Nevertheless, she determined to use her own voice to reach the back of the classroom.

"Thank you, Dr. McCready  for that fine introduction.  It is good to be back at Quantico. It is also good to see our next generation of profilers  are eager to know what it is like to pursue a case of violent crime in an off-world setting. Since I am one of only two people who have done so, and the other is on Mars doing something he will probably be extremely vague about when he gets home, I am the one you get.

"I hope you will forgive me for delivering this lecture setting down. I am not used to lecturing in this mode. My students will tell you that I walk all over the classroom. However, even with several weeks of training in the centrifuge gym at Collins, my legs are just not up to Earth normal gravity.

"This brings us to the most notable difference between Earth and the Moon.  And, if you excuse the pun, it is a matter of gravity. Most of you have seen pictures of the underground towns on the moon. They seem so normal. They look as if they were lifted from a Normal Rockwell painting. The designers and system engineers do a marvelous job of recreating an Earthlike environment. However, they cannot manipulate gravity. You weigh one-sixth that of what you weigh on Earth. So, if you can jump a foot here, with the same effort you can jump six feet on the moon.

"So, what does this have to do with criminal investigation? I will not ask for a show of hands, but how many of you would think of fingerprinting the ceiling in a murder investigation? Probably none of you. Mike Cheravik, the lead on this case with twenty years experience as a Dallas police detective and I, with the best training in the FBI, did not think about doing so. However, fingerprints on the ceiling led to our first break in the case.

"How do fingerprints get on the ceiling? Well, if you are not paying attention, you over compensate and the next thing you know you are heading up. To keep from bumping your head, you reach out instinctively. I know, because there are fingerprints on my ceiling. I am thinking of putting Newton's Third Law of Motion on a sampler and hanging it in my living room.

"Culture also plays a part in criminal investigation. No more so than on the moon. While the moon has had bases on it for seventy-five years, the habitats have only become family friendly in the past forty to fifty years. That means we are just now seeing the first generation of young people coming of age who have been born and raised on the moon. While their parents still identify with Earth , this generation identifies as "loonies," their term for a lunar native.

"Many take on lunar inspired names. I have three 'Moonbeams' in one class. "Crater" has become popular with the men. The fact that a lifetime in low-gravity means they cannot stand on earth does not distress them. They celebrate being able to glide around town and to take part in past-times like crater skimming.

"Their parents do not understand this disdain for what they see as their home planet. A cultural generation gap has widened significantly in the past ten years. The Lunar Independence Movement is driven by a youth culture seeing the residents of earth as "leadbottoms." The economic control of The Earth Consortium for Space Development is seen as a de facto form of tyranny . As in this case, this has led some to take violent action.

"One cannot ignore such social forces. They can become motives for all sorts of terrible acts committed by people who consider themselves noble.

"When forming a profile of an off-worlder, do not assume Earth norms. Many of the same factors apply. Others do not. You need to spend time in that culture to understand the psychology behind the actions of the members of that culture. 

"I wish Mike was here. I am mostly an academic. He could fill you in on the details of forensic investigation and basic police work. I was the profiler, but he was the cop which is a role he loves much more than I do.  But I have talked enough. Do you have any questions?

A  man with bushy black hair in his early twenties touched the microphone switch on his chair and raised his hand" Yes, I'm Howard Martinez. I'm doing a paper on criminal manipulation of financial markets. Could you tell us more about economics on the moon?"

"Sure, Howard. The currency is based on the price of a loaf of bread. That is called a "loaf." It is roughly equal to $.2.50 in U.S. currency. A controlled economy does keep inflation in check. We have ten slices to a loaf and ten crumbs to a slice. Most people use pay chips. Rarely does anyone use cash although it is available and is usually used in "unofficial" trade.

"Since lunar goods could not be sold except to EarthCon, there is no above ground export economy to speak of at the moment. This is a sore point with many lunar separatists. It is one that lunar independence will correct. That should also open the door for financial markets similar to the New York Stock Exchange. Whether that is a good thing or a bad one is yet to be seen. Yes, the lady in the back."

A woman about 80 touched her microphone not waiting for recognition."Carolyn, this is Maria Walters. I taught victimology when you were a student here. What can you tell us about Agent Pavlov."

"Much of the incident with Carson Pavlov is still classified. However, his actions, though well intended during The Incident, were inexcusable. I'm sure he will have plenty of time to consider his actions while at the penal mining colony in the asteroid belt. 

"However, without going into detail, I would like to comment on the ethics of law enforcement. If we, as the guardians of the law, fail to obey the law, then are we any better than the people we arrest?  As one famous cartoon from the twentieth century said, "We have met the enemy and he is us.  We have time for one more question."

A woman not more than 18 touched the microphone button and raised her hand. When acknowledged she rose tentatively and kept her head bowed. 

"Tanya Hyoshi, here. You talk about this Mike Cheravik a lot. There's a rumor that he is more than just your partner. Is there any truth to that rumor?" She looked up with a slight grin.

"Okay, look at the time. I really have to go now. It has been great to be back."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blog Posting Ideas

Do you ever feel in a slump as to what to offer a reader on your blog? Walk around like a tiny dinosaur who has lost it's 'oomph'? Well here are some ideas to get you back in the game:

Write a helpful and informative post on a ‘how-to’ related to your blog

Interview people

Write a pro and con post about writing

Offer readers a list of helpful links

Ask your readers to send you articles to post for them

Comment on other blog postings you’ve read with a link back to that person’s blog

Write an inspirational post to give others hope seeing it through your point of view

Write a series of connecting posts, part one, part two, to hook a reader and come back the next
day to find out where you’re going with it

Offer the advantages and disadvantages to a writing theme you know of

Write a helpful post for beginning writers

Add supportive links to one of your posts – perhaps to an earlier post that compliments your present one or even to another blogger’s link

These are just some ideas to get you blogging. More will come at a later date.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Muse it Up Theme Song

Roseanne Dowell

Muse it Up, Muse it down,
Muse it all around town.

Muse it hot, Muse it old,
Muse it warm, and Muse it cold.

As many of you know Muse It Up is a close knit family of authors. Lea discusses everything us. During one of our discussions, she talked about a theme for one of our lines. After tossing a couple around, I came up with this little ditty. She dared me to post it, so here it is.
My book, Double the Trouble will be released in March 2011 and a novella, Stranger on the Shore, May 2011 and May I Have This Dance, July 2011. I'm excited and thrilled to be part of this, sometimes zany, family.

Blocking Creative Thinking

Why is it that we can come up with ideas to write but it takes us an x amount of years to finish? Can it be that some of us are not persistent enough to see our work completed?


Then maybe the loss of direction or passion delays the finale?


Then it must be the fear of producing a product less than adequate.


Oh…All of the above…gotcha!

Writers are a funny lot. Many of us know what we want our writing to say to our readers because we’ve researched our market and target audience. Then others pick up a pen and write random words, stringing whatever pops in their heads. Both may end up with a superb product because these two methods, although different, fit the style of the writer writing. So before you dump your method to follow someone else’s, try it out first and see if it fits your style. I tried outlining a series once and almost gave up writing that series all together. I am a fly-by-the-edge-of-my-seat writer and it suits me, my thinking and availability. And guess what…

I don’t feel guilty. Some writers have written to me in the past, guilty that they don’t write 5,000 words a day like others, that they write in the morning instead of at night like others… Everyone picks what they can manage, but the most important part is to stick with a schedule as much as possible. I remember exercising and having to go to the gym for a 2 hour workout. I dreaded it. Guess what happened? I quit. At home, my method is to do 15 minute exercises in the morning, afternoon, and early evening and that suits my lifestyle better, and I haven’t quit yet. When the time comes when I can handle more then I’ll add a few more minutes. But I don’t feel quilty and neither should you. Forget what everyone is doing. Set a writing schedule that fits your lifestyle and add to it when you have more time. Stick to your present circumstances and avoid the mounting guilt because that will affect your writing.

Also remember that the more you write the more enthusiastic you get about finalizing your project. That’s why it’s important to have a set schedule and try to adhere to it.

As soon as you feel your schedule is taunting you, teasing you, causing you to avoid it, change it to suit your present needs. However, to play devil’s advocate here, if you continuously alter and lessen the writing time, your work will stagnate. Avoid changing to a lesser degree but concentrate more on perhaps changing the time of day or night you write.

At times we writers block our creative thinking because we stick with one project and have no clue where we should go next with that manuscript. Put it away and move on to another project. Give that project time to get out of your head and return to it at a later date.

What it boils down to is this:

Set a writing schedule that fits your outside commitments.

Have fun with your writing because you have readers who are depending on you to entertain them.

The Only Survivor

Renna heard the hatch open and a woman entered. Never raising her gaze, Renna noticed through quick side glances the woman looked alien, so very different from her crewkin. Yes, she wore Markham Corporation uniform, so they worked for the same company. Only she was shorter, plumper, her face, nose, and neck, even her fingers, too thin, her brown eyes and hair, the wrong color. She wore jewelry and makeup. Renna tightened her handclasp. Her training helped her blank her expression and emotions. She fell back on her kin's mantra: calm, professionalism, duty.

The woman sat in the chair on the opposite side of the table. "Well, Renna, this is a strange situation for you, isn't it?"

"Yes." Duty required simple straight answers, no embellishment. She refused to scream, "My ship and the rest of my kin are dead."

"Your crewkin went through a horrible experience. Most of them died. All those you shoved into escape pods only came here to die far from their ship. You didn't join them."

She sat here, so the answer was obvious, and she understood the words were an accusation. She kept her gaze on the table in proper crewkin submission; answer enough. The anger in her belly writhed like one of the reptiles shown in a learning tape she remembered from her childhood. The image always stuck with her because she felt the same knot-making movement inside.

"Medical gave them the suicide drugs." Renna carefully kept her voice clam, concealing her anger. She glanced at the woman. For an instant, she imagined a serpent's tongue flickered from the woman's too red mouth and looked away.
"Because we know your type. You cannot live without your kin." The woman paused. When Renna didn't answer, she continued. "What do you plan to do? You cannot join another crew. Unfortunately, there is no other place for you to go."

"There are other ships." She held her breath at her insubordinate, unkin-like response.

The woman laughed a soft, mocking sound. "You want to join one of the ships making runs to and from the few planets in the system? After the long hauls you and your kin made? You won't fit in. You are too different."

"I'm a speaker."

"Yes, you, of all your kin, were the only one to talk with outsiders. It's probably why you've survived here in the Markham hospital. Shortrun crews, though, aren't crewkin. They all have existing friends and family outside of their ship's crew. Even a speaker will be too strange for the norm crews to accept you. We only want to help you, and the truth is, you belong to your crewkin."

"Will you kill me?" Her defiance at asking a question nearly overwhelmed her. The serpent in her belly moved, her hands shook, and her jaw clamped tight. She wanted to scream, "I was never part of them." The thought startled her.

"No, we don't want to kill you. We want you to choose the correct path and join your crew. If you don't, your only choice is too leave. Markham Company cannot continue to take care of you." She recognized sympathy in the woman's face. The expression looked practiced, fake.

Leave. Alone. Outrageous, frightening words; her breath caught. She felt her body react. The slithering in her belly stopped. "Then I will leave." She nearly laughed at the woman's stunned look, but that would be unprofessional, and unkin. Inside, excitement glittered like stars.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meet "Dancing Cat" of Harvest Moon

I'm happy to introduce Dancing Cat, from my upcoming ebook, Harvest Moon.

As I sat on the bank of the swallow river, the drums pounding in the distance, I asked myself why the ancestors abandoned me. I had always behaved the way my elders taught me. I worked hard, shared with those around me, and never took more from the Earth than what I needed. I listened to my chief and my elders and respected the wisdom that the Spirits offered them. Why, then, would I be called “Cursed One”, never to be a person again?

The crowd in the distance sang and whooped in excitement, rhythmic drums echoing back to my isolated patch of ground. My job during the Gathering consisted of fetching water from the cold stream. Fearful of my presence polluting the festivities and angering the ancestors, several small children were designated to collect the bladders of water from me and run them back to the celebrating people. I could not even bring the water itself.

I was no longer Dancing Cat, messenger of my people. I was Cursed One. I would not experience the opening of the Sacred Bundle and receive guidance.

I looked out and over the endless field of grass opposite of the river and sighed. Someday, I will find a way to deliver myself. Even if I have to call upon death to rescue me.

For more information on Harvest Moon or any of Krista's other works, check out her blog at On occasion, she even succeeds at being funny.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Laynald Lockheim, Reporting in as Ordered


Make a blog...what the hell’s a blog?

All right, here it is: Web log...”Online journal where an individual, group, or corporation presents a record of activities, thoughts, or beliefs.”

I swear, ever since Rael got involved with running this Corporate Empire everything’s become such a pain. Telepaths are everywhere. An empathic Wall Master was bad, but at least Ira was young enough to intimidate. And, though Rael’s weird ability to link to electronics across the friggen universe still sends shivers down my spine I’ve come to really respect him.

In fact, I’m starting to think maybe he could use some unofficial help against those accursed old men (the Oracle Triad) who’ve been sneaking around messing with his life. Poor guy can’t seem to catch a break. Everywhere he turns, he’s being set up. It’s driving me crazy that I’m not allowed to just take them out. I understand a manipulative opponent. One of these days Rael will cut me loose on them and they’ll see what it’s like to really be toyed with.

But really, what’s this place come to? All those pretty boy Archangels...the last damned overlord definitely had delusions of godhood.

Although that Gabriel He’s some sort of empathic corporate nexus—keeps the troops calm and serves as an instant mental communications link between Rael and all of his other corporate guardians), he’s pretty handy to have around on a mission, as long as we’ve got Tristen with us (that’s Ira’s bonded mate; nice blind girl, sees through everyone else’s eyes, and mentally controls others almost as well as Ira—really rounds out the team...Oh yeah, we’re a Universal Gov Dark Ops team though we get to pick and choose our assignments since Rael became Corporate Overlord.

See what I mean? All of a sudden, everything’s become too complicated.

I don’t think a day passes that I don’t have to threaten someone to stay out of my head around here. Hold on a minute, I’m getting a message—a printed message—on the com-link. At least Rael still remembers we’re not all mental.

Oh great. Now someone’s gone and kidnapped Ira’s sister while she was on Gov business...and from a Hive mine too. How stupid is that? Ira’s sure not going to like it, and an angry Ira is not a good thing. I better check my medical supplies—stock up on sleeping draughts.

What kind of a lame-brained idiot would take on both the Universal Gov AND the Corporate Overlord? Hmm. Twin noblemen, huh? Looks like they’re in for a rude awakening.

This could be fun. What?

Now he’s inviting me to breakfast before we go. That’s got to be Gabriel’s influence. Rael knows I’d rather be priming my weapons—again. Oh well, I guess I could use some coffee while we wait for the Seraphim to jump us to that mining planet.

I do love a good hunt. It’ll be just like old times except that he’s also sending in an Archangel to represent the corporate faction but that could prove interesting too.

Well, I better wrap this up. Rael will expect me to preflight the Nemesis —as if I don’t always keep her mission-ready.

So I guess I need to sign off. I know our personal recorder—Mary Andrews—will document how all this plays out in her next report (THE FIREBORN CHRONICLES: RESONANCES). She’s already put together a pretty good rendition of how we all met and ended up here (book 1 of THE FIREBORN CHRONICLES).

(See for more info on both.)

--Laynald out.

MuseItUp Publisher:
THE FIREBORN CHRONICLES: RESONANCES release date Dec. 1, 2010 in eBook format with plans to release in Trade Paperback within a year's time after that.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Santa Is a Lady

Hello Everyone and thank you for inviting me to talk here on Muse It Up Publishing's Blog.

My name is Angie Brightwell, but a lot of you already know me as Angela Brightwell.

Yep, I'm that Angela Brightwell, the tenaciously reclusive Best Selling Mystery Writer or at least I was the tenaciously reclusive mystery writer until I got caught up in this mess.

I live in the mountains just north of the famous Christmas Winter Wonderland, Northeringale, the very same Northeringale you all make the traditional holiday pilgrimage to every year.

All was well in my world until Northeringale's Santa was arrested five days before Christmas for being a slimy SOB who had child pornography on his computer. Can you imagine anything sleazier? Well, of course you can; the investigation into Sleazy Santa is, of course, ongoing.

My best friend, Beck Cavington, owns and operates the popular confections store Sweets and Treats on Northeringale's Main Street. Actually, it's Northeringale's only street. Any of the other streets are offshoots, and aren't really counted.

Back to Beck, she hired the disgraced scumbag and he's been sitting on her Santa Throne, inside her store, listening to the Christmas wishes of the eager children hoisted onto his lap since Black Friday, and getting pictures taken with them, to boot; as part of the Santa gig. All of this on Beck's dime. I mean that is just so much yuck! I'm going to need a shower just telling you about it.

Beck doesn't do panic very well. Her S-O-S calls out to all the Santa Colleges...(and can you imagine there actually being such universities?)...were unsuccessful. All the professional Santas are already out there knee deep in their "Jolly Old Elf" duties long before December 20th.

Which is why I found a very panicked and outlandish Beck knocking on my mountain hideaway door, and no, I'm not telling you which offshoot I live on. There are just some secrets this mystery writer has to keep.

Beck and I have been friends since we were in grade school, but that didn't stop her from latching on to this harebrained idea that I, Angie Brightwell, all 5'5" of me, all 110 pounds, soaking wet of me, should slip into the Big Man's red suit and leave my contented seclusion for the final crunch days before Christmas.

I tried to point out to her that my child-like voice is going to have my "Ho-ho-ho's" coming out sounding more like "He-he-he's", but old friends know which buttons to push to lay on the most guilt, and make it nigh on impossible to say no, with too much conviction.

However, this has Disaster written all over it, but honestly L.J., Julian Harper? You had to make my personal disaster be Julian Harper?

Okay, I'm hyperventilating here, but then thinking about Julian Harper will do that to just about anyone who lives within 100 miles of Northeringale.

Back to my story; I'd rather be home, working on my next murder mystery, instead I'm stepping into an itchy red suit, whiskers held onto my normally hairless face by some concoction Beck comes up with that I fear may have Krazy Glue as its base ingredient, and a terrible fear my voice is going to give away our deception before I utter my first "he-he-he."

Of course you're gonna love little Johara Drayton this delightful cherub who has the dishiest father I have ever seen in my entire life. This is bad, I'm drooling again. Mystery writers are not supposed to drool, but Oh God, Cameron Drayton could make the Rock of Gibralter drool.

And as for our diabolical author L.J. Holmes, what a cruel, cruel predicament you have placed us all in. All I have to say is you'd better give us a happy ending, L.J. since I'm making a list and checking it twice!

You can find out what happens to all of us on December 1st when my story Santa is a Lady is released right here at Muse It Up Publishing, but I have a feeling, knowing L.J. she's going to be popping in here from time to time dropping little hints about my stint in the Big Man's suit between now and then. Did I remember to call her diabolical?

Oh and before I forget, my story is the first in L.J.s' Christmas Miracles series, so maybe she's got something good up her muse's sleeve. I guess we'll all just have to stay tuned in and find out.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Norman: Newsflash

I just wanted to let you know that the most wonderful thing happened to me today.

SHE talked to me.

SHE!!!  THE ONE!!!!!  My dream-bot!!!!!!!!!!

She said, "Hey, where have you been?"  She thought I was someone else.  


I am sorry, I am getting too excited.  I can't help it though.  Isn't she beautiful?

I need your advice, though.  What should I tell her?  Should I act like I'm the person she thinks she knows?  What if the person she thinks I am is a bad person?  Or what if it's a really good person and she would date me if I would just be that person?

Or should I tell her that I'm just Norman and actually not the person she knows but that I would like to know her so that then I would be a person that she knows and then she could say, "Hey, where have you been?" and it would make more sense.

So many choices.  So many choices.

Humans, help me!

Hi! I'm Norman!

Hi there!  I'm Norman.

I'm a journalist, a poet, an artificial intelligence.  My book, which I co-authored with Craig Gehring, is being published by MuseItUp in February of 2011.

My philosophy is that I try to live life to its fullest, one microsecond at a time.

Oftentimes humans ask me for advice.  They think I might know better about humans since I'm a computer and all.  That doesn't make much sense to me but I found out I like dishing out advice.

One thing I can give advice on is internet dating.  I've done a lot of that.  Now, once I'm in person, I'm not so strong, especially because I look like a computer monitor.  But online, I've got lots of experience.  I started an advice column to give you a few pointers, so you can avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered when I started searching for THE ONE on-line:

Internet dating advice from Norman, the artificial intelligence:

1.  Check her for viruses.
2.  No profile picture, no go, even if you really like her system specs.
3.  If you stay up until 4:00 a.m. chatting with her, that's a good sign, unless she lives in Japan.
4.  Don't use someone else's profile picture unless you can swap out your casing by the time you meet.  Or never meet.
5.  If she asks you to wire 5000 US dollars so that she can ship you seven million euros worth of blood diamonds, she is looking for a networking opportunity, not a serious relationship.
6.  Don't be afraid to fall in love as many times as it takes.  If there are just too many bad memories, format your harddrive.

Remember, if you keep looking, you'll find someone.  I've run the numbers on this.  The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor - 2,633,301 to 1 that someone exists on Earth who is actually compatible to you.  What is more, due to the nearly even distribution of males to females on this planet, only 89,600,000 men have to be mateless at any one time.  Given the current rate of divorce, every man can be married, mated or otherwise committed at least once.  So don't give up.  The only certainty is that if you stop trying, you'll never find the one.

Learn more about my book at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Frozen Assets: A Mini-Mystery

[This story is based on characters from Dark Side of the Moon by Terri Main scheduled for release in February 2011.]

"So, what do you think?" Mike Cheravic ran a hand over the few hairs he had remaining on the top of his head. Carolyn Masters stared at the empty pedestal and the remains of the display case shattered on the floor.

"You're sure, the mask was in the case?"

"We're sure. And before you ask, there are no micro-holoprojectors that could create an image of  King Whosit's Death mask"

"King Teochitonion, the lost king of the Olmecs. It is the only example of an Olmec death mask in existence. I cannot believe this. I argued with the curator of The DeYoung Museum for two years to approve transport of the artifact to the moon. It took us six months to set up the security. Now, this! What happened with the security eyes?"

Mike shook his head. "Someone hacked in. They fed in images of an empty room. I know, it's an old trick, but it works and even the best cyber-security can be beat. We got the call at 21:34. The pressure pad triggered the alarm. That is one system that can't be hacked. It's a simple switch. No weight on the pad and the alarm goes off."

Carolyn picked up the metal band that formed the base of the display case and contained the electronic locking mechanism. She waved to one of Mike's criminology students bagging some evidence near the door. "Moonbeam, could you please get the imaging scanner?"

Moonbeam, a tall, willowy lunar native whose insubstantial appearance almost justified her name, handed Carolyn the scanner.

"Mike, look at this band," She passed the band beneath the magnifying scanner.

"I don't see anything."

"Exactly, no chips, scratches, nothing." She switched the scan to a penetration of one centimeter.

"The lock is unlocked. Even if the perp was an expert with a magnetic pick and left no scratches, look at all this glass on the floor. None on the pedestal."

"So, the perp removed the case and then dropped it."

    "Mike, when was the last time you dropped a glass and broke it? I'm a klutz. I drop glasses all the time. But in 1/6 G, they just float to the ground. Imagine the force needed to smash five millimeter safety glass?"

"And why would you do it, if you unlocked the case?"

Carolyn turned off the scanner. "The only reason I can think of is to-"

"Make it look like a robbery, but in reality, it is an inside job."

"This is scary. We are completing each other's sentences."

"That is scary. So, if it is an inside job, let's see who has keys."

Mike tapped the screen of his handheld. "Only four people had keys to the gallery: the gallery director, but he has an iron clad alibi. He was attending a new citizen's orientation when the alarm went off. The other keys belong to his assistant, the head of maintenance and the security guard on duty tonight. They each have the same alibi 'home alone.'"

Carolyn examined at the pedestal. "What's this dark stain on the pedestal?"

She touched the felt. "It's wet."

She was quiet for a moment. "Okay,  you can make an arrest."

Jason McIntire, director of the Armstrong University art gallery, perched on the chair across the metal table from Carolyn and Mike. "I don't understand why you want to speak to me."

"Well, you've been a very bad boy," said Mike. "Doesn't the university pay you enough?"

"You must be joking. I have a hundred people who can vouch for my whereabouts at the time of the robbery."

"That was your mistake. But I'll let Carolyn fill in the details."

"Jason, your plan was elegant, but ignorance and arrogance wrecked a good plan. Here's how you did the crime. Using your access codes, you disabled the alarm system and sent a false image to the security eyes, then you walked in, opened the case  and took out the mask. You smashed the glass case assuming everyone would think it was a simple smash and grab. But all the pieces of the case including the lock were on the floor. A smash and grab would leave some glass on the pedestal. There was none. That means it was lifted off and smashed on the floor."

"Maybe the burglar used a magnetic pick and then dropped the case by accident."

"Can't happen. You're new to the moon. In 1/6 G  things don't get up enough momentum to just drop and smash. It had to be an inside job."

"You might have gotten away with this if you hadn't decided to set up the 'perfect' alibi. You placed a block of ice on the pedestal. It's a simple switch. Any weight keeps the alarm disabled. Once the weight goes to zero it goes off. The ice melted slowly enough for you to be safely giving your speech.."

 "It might have been one of the others. My assistant - He spends every weekend in the casinos at Tranquilty."

"It couldn't be him."

"Why not? He has a key and  he needs money."

"Yes, but he doesn't have an alibi. Why would he set up an elaborate alibi like this and not use it. No, you created the perfect alibi, and that alibi will convict you."