Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fallon O'Reilly and the Ice Queen's Lair Trailer

by Debra K. Dunlap

Magic lives in the Americas, too…

Land of the Midnight Sun. The Aurora Borealis. Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.  Dog sleds. Mount Denali. 60 degrees below zero. Moose. Grizzly bears. Salmon. Gold nuggets. Blueberries. Bunny boots and duct tape.

To most people, the word “Alaska” evokes visions of a wild, mysterious land, but for Fallon O’Reilly, it means home. Growing up in a village hidden deep in the wilderness, she eagerly anticipates her first sojourn at the Borealis Academy of Magical Arts. Nothing dampens her enthusiasm; not the creepy bookseller, her sisters’ nagging or the world’s nastiest classmate.
However, when village inhabitants disappear, someone murders a student’s pet and she suffers a near-fatal attack by a horrible, hairy creature, Fallon’s curiosity draws her into a dark mystery. Can a twelve-year-old witch, together with her wheelchair-bound cousin and new found friend from Wyoming, uncover the identity of the evil behind the chilling events?

From the wind-swept tundra to the frozen peaks of Mount Denali, Fallon’s struggle to protect the school and her fellow students encompasses a journey of far more breadth than she expected.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Craig from WOUNDS speaks out

How did I get into this mess?

Well, you see, it's not my fault. Here I am, sitting in a courtroom in Juvy, and for what? Even if I was mad as heck, I never could have cut down that great big tree. It's still standing, isn't it? It was just a joke, see? I was letting off some steam. Anyway, it's my dad's fault.

How did I know my dad would go off the deep end when my mom died: It's her fault really for leaving us! He never would have started drinking so much if she hadn't died. And he wouldn't have beat on me and lost his job and used all his money for whisky, or whatever. . . . I miss Mom, too.

I can't understand why Mr. Ark busted in here and offered to take me home with him. He says he wants me to be a part of a real family; Mrs. Ark doesn't want me to be caught up in the "system." He says I can even play with the dog if I want. Yeah, sure. He probably wants to wallop me for cutting his ole tree. Even if the judge does say he's a nice man. Oh, I get it. The judge says I have to mend the tree. Does Mr. Ark think he can mend me? But my heart broke when Mom died. I don't think I can be mended.

If Mom's looking down, she knows. She knows why I'm sad and unhappy. I'll have to admit the truth or she'll never love me again. I was lonely and angry. And jealous of Nelson Ark's bike and game systems, and other stuff. I was ashamed of wearing hand-me-downs. So I did it. It was my decision. Yeah, I'm the only one to blame.

You can read all about the mess I got myself into in WOUNDS (coming out in September from MuseItUp Young).

But, hey--I'm not going to take the whole rap. I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for Barbara Bockman. See what she has to say for herself.

Thank you, Craig, for allowing me to speak. I needed you as my Main Character because I write for children and teens. I needed a big strapping fella who could wield a chain saw, not a puny girl. (I hope you don't think I'm buttering you up). Although, there are a couple of cute girls in there to keep you company--you and your friend, Nelson. Now don't say Nelson isn't your friend. You might have been jealous of him, but he did take you into his group and also let his dog be your companion.

You want to know why I created you in the first place, don't you? You feel put upon because I gave you all those problems. I will tell you how it all started. When I read in the paper about someone trying to cut down the giant, 500-year-old oak, I was appalled. Many other people were, too. My husband and I were among the hundreds of people who visited the tree and left some money in the donation box. When we saw the wound in the bark of the tree, we couldn't understand why anyone would injure a beautiful thing, such as the tree was. It didn't make sense; there was no logic to it. There must have been an irrational motive behind it. My writer's curiosity was aroused. I decided to make my own reasons.

My boy would need strong motivation to do a bad thing such as attempt to cut down a neighbor's tree. That's why I killed off your mother and turned your dad into an alcoholic. I isolated you from your friends, your teachers, and your dad. I gave you no other relatives. I showed you the kids in the "system" who were never going to be able to drag themselves out of the mire. But I knew you weren't really a bad person. I gave you strength and friends to help bring you back from the depths you fell into. I'm proud of the way you've been trying to mend the tree. But there's also the people problem. You made one wrong decision. Now, let's see if you can make a right one. It's up to you to get yourself out of the mess you (and I) got yourself into.

Your Friend and Creator,
Barbara Bockman

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dancing Cat, from Harvest Moon

Sorry that I didn't come talk to you when everyone else did this week. I'm the Cursed One in my tribe and I'm not supposed to speak. But I have a plan, you see. A plan to escape. I'm going to consult the spirits and, if they won't help me, then I'll take it into my own hands. Either way, I can't live like this any longer.


Cursed, abused, and desperate to know her future, Dancing Cat sneaks a glimpse inside her tribe’s Sacred Bundle, a powerful source of spirit magic. Instead of the future, she sees her most powerful ancestor, Small Tree and incurs her wrath. Small Tree strips Dancing Cat of everything — her home, her identity, even her gender – and drops her in the middle of enemy lands.

She struggles to weave a path around the obstacles of friendship, identity, and longing in order to survive her eventual return home to face even further punishment.

And she does it while wearing someone else's skin.

Pick up Krista D. Ball's Harvest Moon today for only $2.50!

Editing Mi-Steaks

There are some who enjoy a juicy steak and the fat lacing its edges. Then you have those who prefer to take the time and trim the fat, section by section, until that juicy steak is lean and mean and growling to be eaten.

Which of the two are you if you compare the steak to a manuscript? Do you leave in a typo or two thinking a reader/editor/agent won’t notice? Or are you the type who diligently goes over each word making sure excess wordage is eliminated?

The latter is a persistent writer. The first? Perhaps dependant on the editor to catch everything. However, once you realize what to look for when editing, each subsequent manuscript will have a tighter first draft.

This article I want to concentrate on ‘redundancies’:

“Martha, I have a free gift for you.”

FREE GIFT: is there a gift that isn’t free? Perhaps, but for this sentence the added ‘free’ part can be eliminated and the sentence doesn’t lose its meaning.

The loud banging woke me up at 4a.m. and I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was now awake.
Hmm…beginning states the character woke up. Adding everything after sleep is redundant.

The clerk looked over the register and said, “The sum total is twelve dollars.”

The sum…The total…but not The sum total

The report was adamant at his closing: The final outcome…

The outcome suffices.

“Oh, Nancy, come see the extra additions I’ve made to the first floor.”

Come see the additions…

“Oh my. This is an unexpected surprise!”

Not sure about you but a surprise is usually unexpected.

June looked at the clock. It read 9p.m. in the evening.

What part of the planet does one have to live in not to know that p.m. means evening?

James pulled the chair for Isabelle and she sat down.

No need for ‘down’ because one usually sits down. It’s part of a logical order of things in life.

Excessive word count can be found in every manuscript. I may have a few in this article, although I tried to eliminate the added word count that sounds like unwanted luggage that is going to cost me a pretty cent and may eventually end up reading like a run-on sentence. GRIN

Here are a few more that can easily be cut down to size:

I am in possession of the silver dagger…

I have the silver dagger.

It is my opinion that many writers rush their work…

I think many writers rush their work.

All of a sudden, the clouds turned murky gray...

Suddenly, the clouds turned murky gray.

Due to the fact that one sister didn’t talk to the other…

Because one sister didn’t talk to the other.

Do you have any repetitive words or phrases you’d like to share?

Harvest Moon

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Boys Upstairs awarded the CWG Seal of Approval!

Guess what The Boys Upstairs won?

Yes, it's the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval!

From their own documentation,

The CWG Seal of Approval is our program for helping evaluate the Catholicity of a book. It’s a gatekeeping tool for bookstore owners and readers, and a great plus for any book that’s reaching that audience. Intended mostly for authors that don’t have access to a Imprimatur (like writers of fiction), it basically says that the book does support Catholic belief and traditions.

How cool is that?

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Cruise with Michael Patriate

Crap, I'm sick. Not just sick of this time I've been thrown into against my will. Not sick of worrying if someone will discover I'm from 500 years in the future. Not sick of wishing for creature comforts like central heat, hot showers, and coffee. No, I'm really, really sick.

My progenitor has seen fit to place me on a post-medieval Venetian galley headed down the Adriatic, bound for Portugal. Yes, the kind of galley that has rows of oars sticking out the sides. The kind that houses a hundred other smelly human beings in a cargo hold cruelly called a cabin. The kind that bobs and weaves with the wind and waves. The kind without a toilet.

Joe Douglas seems to think I need to learn a lesson and he's banished me here to do the trick. Well, I have one question for Joe. Why did he write in my supposed flaws in the first place? He could have just made me rich and happy. Oh, what's the use.

Guess I'll try to occupy myself with caring for my companion on this trip. He had a little trouble in the last town and is sleeping off a beating. Well, at least he's not conscious so he can't get seasick.

And another thing, uhm...I gotta go now.

[Author's note: Michael is the main character in The King of Silk. And he does indeed require a lesson.]

Carolyn Masters Talks Back

I did not want this. I did not want this at all. I came to the moon to get away and now I'm back where I was 20 years ago staring at a dead body on the floor.

Sorry. Got to go now. The Dead body will have to wait. I've got a class. But I did not want this at all.

More later.


(Carolyn is the main character in Dark Side of the Moon.)

Pain, scars and life

My name is Jake Turner, Deputy Sheriff of Badger County in Resurrection Garden written by Frank Scully, and I have a complaint.

What’s with all the scars? The story starts with me getting my back end sewed up because I sat on a cross cut saw. Scars down there are not fun. I also have scars all over my chest and back, some more on my chin, cheek and forehead. I don’t want to go into how I got them. Then someone ambushes me and there’s another brush with death and a big scar to go along with a couple other bullet scars. I can’t tell if I’m the luckiest guy in the world or the unluckiest. I don’t enjoy pain any more than the next person. Granted, my job isn’t without some risk. I hunt killers. That’s my job. It’s not my first choice for a career, but I’m good at it.

All I want is to live a normal life like everyone else. Is that too much to ask for?

Read Resurrection Garden and find out.

Oh for crying out loud!

I'm Kevin Farrell, from Jane Lebak's The Boys Upstairs, and I just found out my brother Jay posted about me earlier today.

Look, I don't go airing my dirty laundry all over the place, so why should he? Yes, I brought him three homeless kids because whenever they were in foster homes, they'd all run away again so they'd be with each other. Given the choice between having the three of them freeze to death in a bus station alcove or bring them to my brother, what did you think I was going to choose? Does he think I'm heartless?

And this crap about maybe I'm not even sure why we don't talk anymore? I'm sure. I just got through telling him it's because I can't stand to see him wasting his life the way he is now. Yeah, I miss the good old days too, but you tell me -- which one of us walked away from that?


"I'm Going Crazy on this God-Forsaken Rock, The Moon!"

My name is Katie McGowan, and I’m stuck in Rockton on the Moon. Okay, I admit my marriage wasn’t the happiest in the world. But I swear Scott (my EX-husband) planned to bring me up to this God-forsaken rock and dump me here. I should have known. He never expressed any interest in working outages on the Moon before Dr. D. suggested I come up here for brain surgery.

I suppose you’re wondering what I’m talking about. I’m bi-polar. I can thank my mother for that one. I’m pretty sure she was bi-polar, too. Only she never admitted it and she self-medicated with booze. Oh yeah—she was pleasant to live with. At least I tried. I saw a shrink and took meds. Well, I usually took my meds. And really—during some of those last instances I was taking my meds. When I poured pop on that woman’s head and she shoved me across the bar and broke my wrist, Scott was administering my meds. That’s when Dr. Davidovich first mentioned the chip. He said it would control my mood swings. Yeah. Would you wanna become a robot? There had to be something else I could try.

I was suspicious when Scott came home six months later and announced we were moving to the Moon for awhile. That’s the only place you can get the chip. He assured me no one would operate on me without my permission. So we get up here and I’m sick all the time. And yes, I went off on him a couple times. The first time was funny. I tried stomping my foot but in the low gravity I landed on my butt and he tried to help me up and he landed on his butt and we both ended up laughing. The second time I slugged him. And he walked out on me!

There I was—exhausted, I couldn’t keep anything down (including my meds), and I was crying all the time. I was space sick and he had no compassion whatsoever. I had to get a job waiting tables! And the damned space sickness just would not go away. Except it wasn’t space sickness. I’m pregnant. So okay—I’ll get the damned chip. Everyone’s saying I can’t keep my baby if I don’t. And Scott says he wants me back. Yeah, right! He even says he’ll take me home to Earth. But the doc says I can’t travel, I can’t have the surgery until I have the baby, and I can’t take my meds while I’m pregnant. Oh, man… We’re all in for a rough ride. Why, oh why am I in this mess?

Rock Crazy, Book Two of the Moon Rock Series by Rochelle Weber, will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in October, 2011. You can learn more about Rochelle’s books at her website.

From Tina’s Desk to Your Screen

If Only I Dared

1) Set holiday auto email reply. Sorry I’ll be out of the office for the next week as I enjoy my honeymoon for one in Vegas. Yes, alone. The wuss I was supposed to marry decided he couldn’t live without his pumpkin-pie airhead mistress. BTW, if I win in Vegas, I won’t be back.

2) Return bridal shower and wedding gifts with thank you notes. To my side of the aisle…I’m sorry, you were right. He was a twit. To his side of the aisle…I’m sorry, you were right. He was a twit and good luck with the bimbo.

3) To all the wedding people. Call the Twit he arranged it all. Yes, right down to the teal and burgundy colours with canary yellow accents.

4) To the photographer. How much to billboard-size the pic of Mr. Twit and Mistress Twit as the birds bombarded them?

What did I dare? Well, now you’ll have to read MIDNIGHT FIND this Summer from MuseItUp Publishing.

The Heart's Lone Desire: Trenton's Quest

I hear its cry. Its echoing beat, perpetually teasing my mind, teasing me to the bone.

Where does my story start? I can barely remember.

Trenton. That's my name, I think. Or at least it used to be. I was a detective, hired by the wealthy in low places, their link between their public lives and the privacy of their darkness. I acquired the best of the worst, catered to their sins, recovered that which was meant to be lost. Until I found the heart. Miss Worthing. Haha, she could do with a heart. I'm her prisoner, you see, and have been ever since I failed her. I was ordered to bring back a heart of ivory; a lost legend that promises eternal life. I did find it; I did! But someone else got to it first.
She wants to kill me. I know she does. But I still have my secrets. The secrets she needs to pursue the heart. Rumour has it that a new guy's been hired, a professional thief. Not like the others; he's sharp, like I used to be. He'll come for me. He'll find me. And what will I do, then? I'll be forced to spill my secrets, and that'll be the end of me!

M-maybe, I can get to the heart, first. Yes, that's it. And this time I'll succeed. This time it'll accept me. I'll have its power all to myself, all to myself!

Callie Corwin here...

Oh, what was I thinking when I trained to be a flight attendant?  Okay, so I take some of the responsibility for the idea, but Ginger should have never let it get so out of hand.

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of wearing one of those snazzy outfits and jet-setting all over the world.  The first time I flew with my parents, I was so impressed by the woman who brought me a blanket when my teeth were chattering.  Not a hair out a place, perfect make-up...she looked like she'd just stepped out of a fashion magazine.  I knew I wanted to be just like her.

Heck, when you dream of what you want to be when you grow up, you don't think about the bad things:  turbulence, the constant demands of the passengers, or possible danger.  I was a mess on my first flight.  My nerves felt like electrical wires in a lightning storm.  I came on that stupid plane believing I knew everything, but boy was I wrong.

I'm so ticked at Ginger, I want to give away the end of the story, but I guess I would only be hurting myself by doing that.  If you want to know what happens, you'll just have to read the book.  Like I've said before, "Where else can you be entertained for less than a dollar and not worry about calories?" 

You can get your own copy of A Wing and a Prayer at Muse It Up Publishing or in a multitude of other places that I won't list because Ginger makes more money if you buy direct.  I will list the Kindle Store at Amazon for all who got one for Christmas.  Oh, and don't tell Ginger we chatted, okay?   I didn't die and I still have a job, so I guess everything ended all right.  She's moved on to torturing another characters, I'm sure.

I'm in Such a Mess!!!!

Hi, my name is Carolyn Samuels and I should have followed my first instincts and stayed home the first day of school, because of what happened. You have to know before this day me and my friends were basically invisible to the popular kids except for Jennifer. My body is too large for fashion and my hair hangs like stringy spaghetti. So I never thought I could be popular.

It was the first day of freshman year in Mill Valley High and who should be sitting next to me but Jennifer Taylor! Oh I wanted to run out of the room, but my teacher had already paired us for a Math project. I'm sure she didn't want to be with me either. I mean she actually tried to change partners. Thank goodness at lunch I sat with Becky, one of my two best friends from forever. My other one is Janie, but she didn’t have our same gym period. I thought I'd get through gym. Except being so near Jennifer, who had bothered me for two years in middle school saying "breathe Carolyn breathe to me whenever she saw me, made me have a breathing attack. So I fainted right there on the hard gym floor. That's the reason I got in this mess in the first place.

I didn't want anyone to know what happened in gym so I told Jennifer I would do her homework for her that night. I thought I would be done after that. But Jennifer was relentless about getting me new clothes and she made me her new project while we were doing the project together. I wouldn't even have found out her secret if not for the constant trips to the bathroom and her lies to me.

Now I'm carrying all of her lies in my head like sandbags. I'm lying to my parents and my best friends so I can keep being Jennifer's friend and have her help me learn to tumble. I really want to be a cheerleader and Jennifer, who is hoping to be in the Olympics with her gymnastics, said she would help. I don't know what to do I'm so screwed. My best friends barely talk to me and I think if I learn anything more about Jennifer I'll scream!!! Oh yeah, I also have a crush that no one but my best friends know about, on her boyfriend, Brad Morrow, the hunky junior quarterback. I'm in such a mess I don't know how I'll get out of it.

Oh, no, I'm having a breathing attack --- Breathe, Carolyn, breathe. I hope I don't faint again. Did I mention I'm sitting next to Brad right now at Jennifer's table for lunch? Becky and Janie have this strange look on their faces. All I want to do is go back to being invisible again.

My story will be available in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu this September. Then you can see what I did to get out of this mess!! Please visit my author’s page to read more about my story.

My author put me in a messy situation

 I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Jordan Blake, heroine from Stranger on the Shore. Talk about being in a mess. All I did was rescue this guy from my shoreline. Heck, he was unconscious in freezing cold water with a snow storm brewing. If you know anything at all about Lake Effect snow, you'd know how bad it was out there. So, I couldn’t ignore him. Could I?

Part of me wished I had. But I didn't and after pulling, pushing and rolling him to get him back to my house, we were both drenched, freezing and exhausted. I couldn’t very well leave him in his wet clothes. So I did the admirable thing. I undressed him of course. Not that it was easy, believe me. What Roseanne Dowell had in mind when she put me in this position, I’ll never know. I tried hard not to look, but let's face it, I'm human and he had a great pair of legs, not to mention a muscular chest.

It wasn’t bad enough this guy shows up on my shoreline, half dead, unconscious, soaked and freezing. Oh no, that wasn’t enough for Roseanne. She decided I needed to be attracted to him. Why?

I mean seriously, I was happy living my secluded life, writing. Yeah, I’m an author too, and I had a deadline to meet. I didn’t need anyone interrupting that, least of all a man. One who I was strangely attracted to yet.

Anyway, after I undressed the guy, I stuffed him in a robe left over from my ex husband. When I say stuffed, I’m not kidding. My ex was much smaller and shorter than this guy. But it was the best I could do. I covered him with a blanket and left him next to the fireplace to thaw out while I went to change.

Once the guy woke up, I discovered he didn’t know who he was. Seriously, he had amnesia.  Just great. For all I knew he was a serial killer. I wouldn’t put it past Roseanne to do that to me. But darn it, I was still attracted, and when he kissed me, well let’s just say there was a storm raging inside as well as out.

So I did the only thing I could. Oh, Roseanne didn’t like it one bit, I can tell you that. But, I didn’t care. I wasn’t sitting out there with this guy. I hid in my library. It’s really just an office, but I like to call it my library. Besides, I had work to do. I had to finish my novel.

Of course I couldn’t concentrate. Oh no, Roseanne wouldn’t allow that. That guy was out there, and I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I could hear him  moving around and whistling. I just hoped he wasn’t snooping through my stuff. But the alternative was to go out there and no way. I don’t care how hard she tried to make me. I just wasn’t doing it.

At least not right away. Eventually hunger got the better of me and I didn’t have a choice.

If you want to see what happened, you’ll have to read Stranger on the Shore available March 1st at Muse It Up Publishing - -

You can check out my website and learn more about my books or my blog to learn more about me and other authors

Excerpt from Strange on the Shore

“Darn, it’s getting cold.” Jordan shivered and zipped her sweat shirt. She hated storms, hated thunder and lightning most of all. Grabbing at some papers that flew across the deck as the wind picked up, a movement caught the corner of her eye. Something washed up on the shore. Something big. A body?

Jordan jumped off the deck and raced toward the craggy shoreline. Dark clouds hovered across the lake. Cold water splashed against her as waves crashed against the rocks like angry arms hurling water at an invisible enemy. The crash of thunder echoed across the lake. Ducking her head as lightening streaked across the sky and the air crackled with electricity, she thought she must be nuts. Probably just a bunch of old clothes washed up. Still, she had to see for herself.

Surely, no one in their right mind would be in the water this time of year? There had been storm warnings on the radio all morning. No one would be stupid enough to ignore the forecast. Would they? Heavy rain and strong winds then turning to snow, with a drastic drop in temperature, and blizzard-like conditions weren’t anything to ignore. Jordan winced as lightning flashed again, back-lighting the dark clouds. Darn it, she wanted to be inside cuddling by the fire not out here in a storm. For two cents, she’d turn around and go back. But something drew her forward.

A man’s body against the rocks.

Oh, Lord, please don’t let him be dead. She had planned for a quiet weekend, writing. A weekend with a corpse wasn’t on her list of quiet. But she couldn’t leave him out here either.

Jordan came closer and stooped down next to him. Lifting his head out of the water, above the crashing waves, she felt for a pulse. Thank God, he’s alive. Now how to get him out of here? She grabbed his arm, rolled him over and tried to pull him from the fury of the lake. Wave after wave pounced on him, their foamy peaks trying to reclaim him. Lord, if she ever needed help, now was the time. Struggling to roll him to higher ground, she lost her breath. His long, muscular frame outweighed her slender five foot two body and felt like dead weight.

“You’re going to have to help me.” Jordan grunted and gasped for breath when the full force of icy waves pulled her down and washed over both of them.

No response.

“Damn it. I can’t do this alone.”

Still no response.

Great, how was she going to pull him to safety? “I hate to do this, but I see no alternative.” Jordan took a deep breath and pushed him over, rolling him like a barrel and trying to avoid cutting him on the sharp rocks. It wasn’t easy, but at least he moved.

“Come on!” Jordan tried to encourage some life from his limp body. Once he was far enough away from the waves, she stared at him for a moment, before leaning down to give him mouth to mouth. His long straight nose, eyes set wide with bushy eyebrows and the grin on his lips, even in his unconscious state, sent a ripple of excitement through her body.

Not a handsome man, but something about him caused heat deep inside her. Shrugging off the urge to run her fingers through his curly black hair, she began mouth to mouth. When her mouth touched his lips, opened them slightly, something familiar tugged on her heart. She hadn’t touched a man's lips in, what, three years. This wasn’t exactly the way she imagined touching them again. Not that she ever imagined it. Never even thought about it. She’d had enough of men to last her a lifetime.

Don't Listen to Gossip

Look, I'll make no bones about it, I don't want to talk right now. I'm exhausted and I need to spend time with my family. Anyway, where were you when I hid away in the attic, a cripple too embarrassed to show my scarred face? Yes, you. Don't look over your shoulder. Oh, I was good enough for you then, when I covered my face with a beard and dressed as St Nick. You were happy to follow me on a merry dance through the snow, that night. But, afterwards, after the tragedy, you all stayed away. Now you've come back to gawk at poor Stefan Gessler.

I know you've heard the gossip. You've come to see the freak who found a magic orb and crossed to the other side of time? Haha. You don't believe I did that, do you? A man who claims he travelled to the 14th century has to crazy or a liar, right? Would you believe a story about a shape-shifting sibyl and an evil knight pursuing a harlequin who actually met Wilhelm Tell in person? Of course you wouldn't. I'll even bet you don't believe an alchemist can change base metal into gold. So go away, please. It would be easier to convince my medieval ancestors and peasants that I'm real, more exciting, too. #

Peeling potatoes and stealing cable

Hi, I'm Jay Farrell, main character of Jane Lebak's The Boys Upstairs. When Lea asked me to write a weblog entry, my first thought was "Sure! I'd love to do that--it's not like I'm already at the end of my rope running an impoverished parish, a soup kitchen, as well as dealing with permanent nerve damage from my time as a soldier. Oh, and the six homeless kids that have moved into the top floor of the rectory. 

It's not that I mind doing any of that. It's my job. But there's not much time left over for messing around online. Plus, my brother Kevin, who hasn't bothered talking to me for three years, just came by and dropped off three more kids. I was waiting for the day the cops showed up at the door to ask what on earth I thought I was doing by letting the kids sleep in a warm house rather than behind a dumpster. I just didn't expect it to be him.

I tried to make amends with Kevin. He's so angry at me, but he'll never talk about why. I'm not sure he even knows. But he used to be my "partner in crime" growing up, and I miss the way we used to be close.

I need to go peel potatoes for the soup kitchen now, so I'll live you with a three-page excerpt of chapter seven, which takes place right after Kevin and I had a nasty blow-out fight about why he won't talk to me any longer. Enjoy!

Chapter Seven

Good job, Jay.

Yep, that's why he'd gone to seminary and gotten ordained: in order to yell at his brother.  Wonderful that he could preach about loving your enemy and then lose his temper with Kevin.

Jay wished for once that he could still head to a gym to pummel a sandbag and then run on a treadmill until he outdistanced himself.  Instead he sat at a table in the upstairs kitchen, pounded out a Christmas homily, and ignored the telephone when it rang in the parish office.  

Your brother could always push your buttons. Why? Because Jay and Kevin had helped install one another's buttons. It only made sense.

Jay looked at the crucifix and said, "See, you're lucky. You didn't have a younger brother." 

Footsteps above Jay caught his attention. He often heard footsteps in the basement, but here he was at the top floor. Meaning the only place above him was the roof.  

I'm Jax from World of Ash

My name is Jax, and I star in World of Ash. The author, Kevin Hopson, paid me $1.5M to be in his book. Unfortunately, he has only made a few bucks from this story, leaving him significantly in the hole. It is not my concern, though. I got paid, and I earned every cent of it, so now he has to figure out a way to make back his money and more. As we characters like to say, “Marketing is something for the authors and publishers to do.”

Critics might think I was overpaid for the gig, but consider the following before making a decision. For one thing, I was thrown into a “World of Ash” for crying out loud. Have any of you experienced a setting like this? I highly doubt it. Try sucking in sulfur on a regular basis. It will make you want to vomit. Additionally, the ash is extremely abrasive and can irritate your eyes and lungs, hence the need for protective goggles and air filter masks. You can kiss most electronics goodbye, too, including car and plane travel. Throw in an irritating friend to accompany you on your journey, like my buddy Stu, and you are asking for hell on earth.

Maybe I am being a little rough on Kevin. He was nice enough to offer me a follow-up role in his first full-length novel titled Planet Ash, which is based on the original World of Ash story. As a result, I should probably cut him some slack, especially since we are still in negotiations over pay. I cannot provide any details right now, but it is safe to assume I will be demanding much more this time around. A full-length novel will require a significant amount of my time, and no one can play Jax better than myself. I dare the critics to prove otherwise.

Hunted, Haunted, Homesick. How did Caleath get in this mess?

We spoke with Gwilt, from 'The Chronicles of Caleath'
Hi, my name is Gwilt and I am one of Caleath’s traveling companions. I don’t recommend trying to pin him down for an interview, but I can recall a night when he seemed less reticent than usual. I too wanted to know all I could about this stranger to our shores. So I risked asking him some questions concerning his journey. 
Here is my version of what transpired.
Curious, I asked…
“Where are you going? How is it that you speak our language? Chesney told me you speak all dialects?”
“What is this? Question time?” Caleath sipped the stew I offered. “What did the smith tell you?”
I was grateful light from the lantern left my face in shadow, as Caleath seemed to search for signs of derision. “Mostly he talked about the sinking of the Albatross. Why did you risk falling off the edge of the World? To get here? Why here? There is nothing for you here but more grief. Why do these assassins hunt you?” I paused to gather my breath.
“For starters, there is no edge of the world. This is a planet like so many others, a sphere.” Exasperation seemed to fade as Caleath continued. As though conversation could keep despair at bay, Caleath’s tone mellowed. His attention seemed to focus on appeasing my curiosity.  “You can’t fall off this world. That would be too easy.”
“You say?” I scoffed in disbelief. “How do you know?”
“Balls of a hairy goat, I come from another world. Do you think I stepped through a portal? Every star in the sky has the potential to host another world.”
 “Why are you here? Did you anger your god?” I probed deeper while my luck held. I could ponder his strange answers later.
“What I did was even worse than that. I defeated a powerful madman in a contest of skills. It was a game. Somehow my success enraged this lunatic into wanting to destroy me.” Caleath paused, as if reluctant to continue. “Death would have been too easy. Ephraim did more than simply destroy me. He has made my life a living hell. Now I find he sold viewing rights to all and sundry. Satellites monitor my every move. You don’t need to understand how, to know it isn’t my idea of fair play.” Caleath pushed away his half-finished stew, bridged his hands and rested his forehead against them before he took a steadying breath.
“I’m sorry,” I sensed my companion’s despair seeped through cracks in an iron will. “You needn’t speak of this if it causes you grief.”
“If it concerned me alone,” Caleath delivered his words as though anger chiseled each syllable from flint. “I could bear the pain. I will seek my revenge, rest assured.” He took a shuddering breath and released it slowly. “It is the others who were innocent and yet have become involved for whom I feel the most anger. Rybolt’s exile was wrong. To die in the name of entertainment is wrong. There have been others, there are still others out there, driven to seek and kill me.”
“All because of a game?”
“It was quite a contest.” Caleath met my disbelief with sadness. A muscle beneath his eye twitched, pulling at the corner of his mouth. Grief leached color from blue eyes and for a moment I looked into gray depths, as tormented as a storm-ridden ocean. I sensed ghosts clamoring beyond the walls of the cottage.
“What sort of a contest?” I recognized a cathartic need in my companion.
“The Game?” Caleath almost smiled. “It was awesome. Virtual realities beyond your wildest imagination uploaded via our implants. Rybolt and I lived for the time we spent in Virtual Reality. It was your basic game of skills. We took on artificial characters and played to the death. Kill or be killed.” Caleath seemed unaware of the trouble I had trying to follow his jargon. For a few moments, his expression relaxed as if remembering his past helped him banish haunting spirits. I listened in awe. “All our opponents were virtual images. No one ever took hurt from the game. No contestant ever shed blood.
“For his plans to succeed Ephraim needed to find an obscure world like yours. One he found in my files. I trained as a surveyor of viable planets. That’s how I know your manner of speech, your landforms, cultures, history. I filed information gathered on hundreds of planets and stored the data on a chip in my head. Ephraim just needed a world he knew would not warrant the Federation’s interest. Gods, one from which escape would be almost impossible.” His voice trailed away.
“Escape?” I prompted.
“That’s right.” Caleath looked into my eyes, as if discovering new energy with a memory of hope. “I am going to get off this rock. I will see Ephraim pay for his evil.”
“To start, I intend staying alive.” Caleath leaned forward. Only a runnel of sweat coursing down his cheek betrayed his angst. Even the ghosts whispering around the hut quieted as Caleath’s conviction gave him strength. “I have a beacon I must find. As long as Ephraim doesn’t know of its location, I have a chance of catching a ride. It will enable me to leave this place. Once free from here, I can work to see Ephraim face justice. If necessary I am prepared to kill him myself and damn Federation rules.”
“I will help you.” My enthusiasm seemed to shock Caleath. “Even if I don’t understand all you tell me.”
“It’s not your fight, Gwilt.” Caleath’s confident attitude appeared to evaporate. His voice grated as if choked by regret. Eyes narrowed and color drained from gleaming cheeks. Beyond the walls, scurrilous ghosts wailed in the cover of encroaching night. “I have said too much.”
“You carry too much grief with you. It weighs on your soul. It is your guilt that allows the dead to plague you.”
“Don’t kid yourself,” Caleath replied. “No, I am not so compassionate. The ghouls are a gift. I told you already, from the lords of dark sorcery.”
“I can feel them, sense their loathing. They hold you responsible for their deaths.”
“They should be free to cross over. The dread lords have bound them to my life force. Every night they come. They would drive me mad but insanity has been out of my reach. The nanobots prevent one from losing one’s mind.”
“And now?”
“Now the nanobots have been destroyed I am afraid I will not cope with their company.”
My hair stood on end when Cyd howled to the moon. As if rejoicing in Caleath’s admission of weakness the spirits circling beyond the sanctuary of light railed with renewed vigor. I recognized genuine gratitude in Caleath’s gaze when he made eye contact.
“That’s why I asked you to stay.”
“I will stay with you. The dead do not frighten me.” I lifted my chin and brandished the wooden spoon. Vengeful ghosts would not touch me.
Caleath’s eyes glinted blue. He shared a wry smile. “You are a braver man than I am, Gwilt.”
“I doubt that!” I changed the subject. “You sailed a ship off the edge of the world.”
“I didn’t think she would sink!” Caleath shook his head. “I might have reconsidered my actions if I had known that.”

Somehow I don’t think he 
would have altered his actions. 
When September comes you 
can read his story and decide for yourself. 

Keep up to date on publishing progress

Laynald Lockheim private journal

Since Rael inherited the Hive planet and more responsibilities than even his customized support system can contain, we don’t get to visit much any more.

Strangely enough, I’m pretty much serving the same function as when we first met; a last line of defense for the most powerful man in the universe—though now I'm more a redundant backup with Gabriel and all the Archangels always at his side and in his head. (Telepaths creep me out.) But I retain my autonomy so, unlike them, I’ll never jump out an airlock just because Rael orders it. He counts on this and the fact that I’ll do whatever needs to be done, no matter what the cost.

Just now, I’m feeling the need to consider my options. Whenever I get like this, I leave Seraphim and get some alone-time staring at the stars or Rael’s giant mothership from the bridge of the Nemesis. Rael doesn’t think anything of this any more. He assumes I’m restless or just keeping my skills honed. I’ve even invited him to join me in some weightless war games. I’d like to show him just how much more interesting combat can be in a room full of not just floating furniture but a full size carpet—makes me smile. Maybe I’ll trick Ira into joining me sometime too. He’s been under a lot of pressure lately.

At any rate, as I sit here aboard the Nemesis: adrift in silence amidst an eternity of stars, I find myself strategizing. Though the universe is vast, it is hard to fathom how our special dark ops team could ever have come together without design. The Oracles have successfully ensnared Rael; pinning him to a power he dare not wield against them. They’ve entwined lonely Ira with Tristen though she’s one of their own. But at what a cost? She was chosen, surgically blinded as a child, then re-engineered before being set adrift to end up at the mercy of a slaver who, strangely enough, owns a mountain with a portal....

What a delicately woven web they’ve designed. Its construction has spanned hundreds of years. But I know there has to be more to all this. What are they up to? Galactic conquest is a good probability. All the pieces do seem to be cascading into position, but Tristen claims she is destined to help save their world. How does their world factor into all this?

Rael believes I alone am not a part of the Oracles’ plan. Their manipulative measures had been meant to secure a conjurer, but Rael chose me instead. So here I am, a man among supermen—the fly in the ointment. I like the sound of that. And as I watch my team members, my friends, being moved into position like chess pieces on a board by these bastards, I'm thinking maybe it’s time for me to step in....


eBook now available at

It's a Long Story (Kayla from LURKERS)

It's December 21st, 2012. My parents are gone. I'm saddled with my whiny younger brother. I get get a hold of my best friend. And somehow it's up to me to find where all the adults have gone to and bring them back.

What kind of a sick joke is that?

I have no idea how I, of all people, got stuck with this job. Well, according to Jackson I'm just his "sidekick" -- SO not a sidekick -- but still. I barely know enough about science to get a B in science class! How am I supposed to save the world? Sure, Jackson's the one doing all the theorizing and stuff, but he honestly expects me to be able to help. ME!

Even though we only met this morning when I stumbled across his voice on the radio, he's been a lifesaver. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without him. He's saved me and Josh from more scrapes than I care to think about. And he knows more about Josh's diabetes than I ever will.

I'd be over the moon to be working with Jackson, if he didn't come attached to his creepy cousin Morris. But even with Morris trying to sabotage our every move, Jackson is my best hope of bring my parents home before Christmas.

And just to be clear, I am NOT. Jackson's. Sidekick!

Lurkers will be released on July 1st, 2011. Visit my author, Lindsay Below, on her website, or on her blog,

NEVER Read Your Best Friend's Diary (Trevor from SAME OLD LIE)

I'm learning that lesson the hard way. Hi, I'm Trevor. And boy, am I ever in a bad situation.

See, I'm friends with this girl Heather. Best friends, actually, even if I've never been invited to her house. But one day, when she drops her diary, she starts to act completely wacko with me. I mean, I gave it right back. From the way she was acting, you'd think I killed her dog or something. Right then, I wanted to know what was in her diary. So when she wasn't looking, I stole it.

I know I shouldn't have, because it got me in this mess to begin with. I mean, alright, she misses school a lot. I just thought it was because she doesn't like school and pretends to be sick. Some girls in our class, like Rebecca, aren't the nicest to her. And yeah, ok, so she has bruises sometimes. I mean, she's always falling down those stairs of hers. She's so clumsy.

At least, that's what I thought. But her diary says differently. Her diary... it says her Mom's boyfriend hits her. I don't know what to think anymore. Is she just making it up or is that what's been happening all along?

I don't know what to do!

Same Old Lie releases on November 1st, 2011. Visit my author, Lindsay Below, on her website, or on her blog

What I Want to Know is Why Am I Here? And She Won't Tell Me!

I can’t believe that any human being would put another human into the situation I’m in. And she even has the balls to say she loves me! Who does she think she is, anyway?
How would you like to be 18 years old and just graduated from high school, which was a total drag and I couldn’t wait to get out, only to find myself on some horrific planet inhabited by demons and dragons? Unless you’re a total gaming nerd who always wanted to live out the games you’ve been playing, or a nutcase, I wouldn’t think you’d be any happier than I am.
I was even in the middle of mourning over my favorite brother’s murder by three dumbass teenagers who burned him to death. I go for a walk to clear my head and this really weird couple assaults me with “Mind the Signs, Myrna.” Like I even know them or something. I’ve never seen them before in my life! I walked away and then turned around to say something and they were gone. Not just walking away, like to their car or something. Gone! What the hell? Right?
Next thing I know I’m standing at my front door looking out at a world that isn’t mine. It’s all messed up, man. The people are dressed like they belong in some Victorian literature and the sky is all gray and blurry. No sun at all, no rain, no snow. Just drab and gray.
And then I go for a walk and get snarled at by some huge dude in all black with red eyes. Freaking me out, man! Next thing I know I’m grabbed by the arm and pulled into a diner where some tiny man standing on a stool in order to stir his spaghetti sauce interrogates me and sends me back home with his helper; the one who grabbed me. And get this, the name of the diner is Spaghetti Asgard. Asgard! Like in Viking heaven. And the diners are all blonde with intensely blue eyes. So I'm thinking something big is up. But no one will tell me anything.
The helper, his name is Michael, is kinda cute, though. Weird, but cute. And here’s the part that chafes my butt. He tells me I can’t go home. I begged and cried and explained about my family being in danger. Didn’t matter. He doesn’t care. I can’t go home until I fulfill some dumbass prophecy that’s moldering away somewhere. It was written thousands of years ago and yet I have to live my life by what it says. How fair is that?
I just want to get home to my other brother and sister. They can’t take care of themselves. They have no idea what’s going on, but I’m starting to get the picture. And they need me!
So I say again, what normal human would write me into the situation I’m in? She can’t be normal. And I’m sure as hell glad she’s not my mother. There’s no telling what she’ll have me doing next. Fighting dragons? Running away from zombies? There’d better be some good stuff in this story, like falling in love with some muscular, handsome warrior or maybe a Scientist with coal black eyes.
And I’d better not be the only one fighting these demons. I need an army of trained warriors, not a group of wimpy kids I’ll have to train. But I bet that’s what she’ll give me. Five or six kids all younger than myself that I’ll be in charge of getting someplace. It’ll be up to me to keep them safe while fighting our way across this monster-infested planet. I just know that’s what she has in store for me.
All I have to say is, this had better be a damn good story.

Rebecca Ryals Russell is the author of the YA series Seraphym Wars. Odessa is due out April 1, 2011 at MuseItUp Publishing. You can read more about it at She also writes a MG series Stardust Warriors. Zarena is due out July 1, 2011. Follow her progress at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hate Editors? Writers?

Do you feel at times like pulling your hair out? Does that migraine hit you hard when you get the edits back from your editor? Feel all stressed out?

Now why do you feel like that?

I've been wondering this for a while now and have a few theories I'd like to pass on to you.

CAUTION: This post is not for the faint at heart. If you don't like to hear the truth then skip this post and move on to another blog.

1- There are different writers out there - the serious writers and the wannabe writers. Nothing new in this information. The biggest difference is that the serious writers absorb suggestions from their editors and contemplate them, analyzing the different ways it will improve their manuscripts. In other words, they work as partners, not against each other. They may debate a chapter or scene, but it's a healthy discussion of pros and cons for the over all enhancement of the manuscript. No egos involved. No hurt feelings. If feelings are going to get hurt at this stage, imagine the devastating emotional roller-coaster ride once negative reviews begin to enter the picture. Editors are there to try and avoid the latter.

The wannabes know it all and prefer to email or call their editors to ask them why they dared to suggest a change in a scene when it was working just fine the way it was written. Hmmm...can you say NOT BEING OBJECTIVE? I will add more to this thought in my closing below.

2- But let's give writers some leeway - there are horrible editors out there who have a title and proud of it, but have no clue what industry standards are, what publishers are seeking, or how to bloody begin editing a manuscript, let alone what to look for in the editing stage. This worries me. Why? Because writers are duped into thinking their manuscripts are in good hands, and they trust what these 'editors' have to say. It's like one of my daughter's grade four teacher where parents complained constantly about her poor teaching methods. We trust the educational system to teach our children. Writers trust their editors to improve their manuscripts.

3- Which brings me to my closing and a few more words I'm biting back to be diplomatic about.

The writers who are not objective are like that perhaps of the vast number of publishers out there now who are more interested in getting tons of books in their bookstores than really caring about the quality of the books they are dishing out to the general public. Remember this is only my own theory and not based on fact, so allow me my little rant here.

Where was I...oh yes...getting back to the writers who are not objective. These writers may be published, were told they had a good manuscript, little editing was needed, and voila, they are published authors. But I can't help but wonder:
  • if these authors were given editors who knew to explain to them why they can't headhop from one paragraph to the next
  • if these authors were shown by their editors how to eliminate the passive telling voice
  • if these authors had the opportunity to flesh out their characters and make them memorable to their readers
  • if these authors had editors who understood the elements of a good beginning, eliminating backstory and descriptive details that only bog down the read from the start
  • if these authors had a chance to grow as writers because of their editors
 So I don't fault a writer most of the time because I just assume the editors they may have had in the past just didn't know how to mentor and allow these writers to improve their craft.

What I do despise with a passion, however, is when a writer turns around and says that 'so-and-so does it in her book and her publisher said it was okay, so therefore I'm going to do the same thing' - this annoys me because not every publisher has the same standards. If so-and-so's publisher wants crap just to rob readers and stagnate a writer's ability to perfect their craft, why jump off that same bridge and die? Your present publisher is demanding higher standards, be happy for that.

Writers and editors need to work together, period! Editors should not change a writer's voice. Writers should not eagerly dismiss what their editors suggest. The confusion between a good partnership happens because of past editors and the mishaps writers may have gone through with them.

And the reason some writers get headaches is because of the confused state they are in, listening to contradicting comments and suggestions from one editor to the next. Other than unique writing voices, there are elements in a story that should not be ignored nor overlooked.

The moral of this post? Live and learn.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Calen Meer has a big problem...

What I should be concentrating on is my charter fishing business and the state of the Coho and Chinook runs, but instead I’m being driven to distraction by a woman’s scent.Yes you heard me right, out of the blue, a writer from Seattle has blown into town and has been snooping around my business. Her story about tracing a man who lived centuries ago, whom she believes is still alive, is far fetched to say the least. That is...if I didn’t know better.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could blow her off and send her on her way, but somehow she’s managed to appeal to my primal self, and that guy is so not wanting to back down. How could decades of careful manipulation and suppression of the beast inside me, been blown away by this woman’s bewitching face and body in a mere twenty four hours? Yeah she’s smart alright, and has trouble written all over those intelligent green eyes.

No, she doesn't know the man she’s looking for is yours truly, but when she puts the pieces together, my deadly past is going to terrify her into thinking clearly, that much I’m sure of.

To make matters worse, three woman have been found brutally murdered between here and Seattle, and I’m here to tell you, no human or rogue animal is responsible. I caught the scent of the cold blooded killer, and this guy simply exudes a perverse pleasure in the slaying, which, to my extreme annoyance, has disturbingly dragged up all those grisly and unpleasant events of my own past.

And that bitch of a full moon, is only days away...

THE LYCAN MOON, by S.Durham coming April 2011