Monday, March 31, 2014

My Scriptorium by Stan Hampton Sr.

I live in a small complex for homeless veterans because technically I am a homeless veteran. Have been for over two years and one month and five days. My efficiency, I guess it is, is about four times the size of the corner of my tent when deployed 2006-2007. I have a square table on which sits my laptop and my latest printer. I use one side of my bed for an extension to my desk, which is kind of messy when I'm writing and have reference books scattered on top of an otherwise orderly and neat pile.

As for writing routine, I write when I write. Unfortunately, I do not have a daily routine. I keep telling myself to create a routine, but for now I write when the mood strikes me. Or when  deadline looms before me.

Stan Hampton's work can be found on MuseItUp Publishing.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Writing Workspace: Susan A. Royal Style

Some of the authors with Muse have been sharing pictures of the places where they do their work. Mine is a nook in the end of my washroom (so I can multitask, I suppose) My husband has been after me for years to move my office to the room next to this one, which is bigger and I could spread out. We have plans to renovate next year and I’ll probably do just that. In the meantime, this works just fine.
I have a corkboard all across the wall behind the computer, and as you can see, it’s full of pictures of my family and writing helps I use daily. The cup holding my pens was a gift from my sister and says “write your own story.” Next to it are the covers from my first and second books, a constant reminder of why I continue to write. At the far left is my TBR stack. No, that’s not all by a long shot. It doesn’t include all the ebooks on my kindle. To the left of that is a window where I can see the sky, watch a storm brew or listen to the wind.
Right above my monitor is a photo of my handsome hubby when he was in his 30s. The blue sign on the shelf above says “well- behaved women have no fun” is my motto. The little statue to the right was a gift from good friends who live on the Isle of Man. Next to it is a little dragon that belonged to my cousin, lost to cancer a few years ago. This is where I spend my time dreaming up adventures.

Susan A. Royal 
From Now On (time travel, adventure, romance)
sequel to Not Long Ago due out in 2014 - the story continues

In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sunday Musings: March 30 2014

Hi, MIU Editor Christine Speakman (MuseChrisChat) here again presenting our Muse Family’s Sunday’s Musings.

So what's this week's musings?  Hmmm, let's see we're just before April 1st...April Fool's Day...a pranking day.

How about humour?

We know emotion in our stories is vital. We know we all love to laugh and that a perfectly pinpointed humour break can amp the emotion in a scare scene, a tension-packed scene, even a love scene.

Do you agree? Disagree?

How do we use humour in our stories? Where do we find humour works best with our characters?

Let the Musings begin

My writing is infused with humor for a very unique reason. You see, my brother David Fraser is my co-author, and we try to crack each other up as much as possible while passing our manuscripts back and forth! It's a great feeling when I sit at my laptop, laughing right out loud at something he wrote. We enjoy sharing our light-hearted moments with our readers.

I believe in infusing humour into a story as well. The Natasha Saga is a deep drama, with a theme that I'm passionate about. That said, it has some humour in it. Readers won't laugh out loud, but people have told me they smile or chuckle. I'm thrilled to know that. My hero Stewart is witty. It lightens the mood.

My father could tell the most absurd stories with an absolutely straight face so that we'd all be convinced for a moment or two that he was telling the truth. Too bad I can't recall any of more absurd stories now.

I'm very fond of puns but have not inserted any that I can recall into my novels. I do have a couple of shorter pieces that do, including one story about some insectoid aliens intent on making whiskey and another about a group of guys naming streets. The latter was inspired by some of the truly off-the-wall street names near our place on Cape Cod. One of the roads is named Rascally Rabbit Road, and my youngest son and I always wondered how it got its name.

Pauline (P.M.) Griffin author of THE STAR COMMANDOS series

There is definitely humor in my books, not slapstick or jokes but rather the normal interaction of four highly intelligent human beings (plus one gurry) who like and love one another.  It always reflects the individual personalities.  Sometimes, it rises during normal daily activities.  Sometimes, it is purposely used to help ease tension.

Humor is important.  It is part of "real" life, part of family life and part of interactions between friends.  If it is not present in our books, the characters won't strike the reader as real, no matter how many quirks they exhibit or how capable and/or heroic they may be.  The reader won't be as drawn to them.  This can hurt a single book and definitely will hurt a series, which requires a solid fan base.

I use dry, subtle humor in my mystery novels. My humor works best involving my character's quirks. And because of their actions, often taking them to the extremes, they  get into certain situations with humorous results. This humor engages the reader, connects them with the characters, and maintains their attention throughout the mystery.

Chris Mannino author of the soon to be released SCHOOL OF DEATHS

I think humor is a great way to diffuse tension, but also to help a reader feel a bit more at ease.  Near the beginning of my novel School of Deaths, the main character's discovered that she's the only female in a world of men, she has to become a Grim Reaper, and she's trapped in a truly depressing situation.  She'll possibly never see her family or anyone she knows again- so time for some humor.  I added a couple wisecracks that the boys around her make about "oh being a Death, it's just a living" - little obvious puns like that help the reader and the character smile a bit.  I think every author should try at least a little humor.

Jami Gray author of the soon to be released HUNTED BY THE PAST

Humor-the great tension breaker-I love it when one of my characters zings an unexpected winner. When a scene is on the edge of breaking your heart or reducing your fingers down to bloody stumps, sometimes it's that unexpected, highly inappropriate flash of nonsense or sarcastic observation that brings it all home, and makes the voice written in front of you all too real.

Mary-Jean Harris author of the upcoming AIZAI THE FORGOTTEN

I'm not particularly deft at writing humourously, so I try to make the characters do all the work. They tell me the joke, instead of me putting it in their mouth. I usually use humour in the form of how the character observes a situation, some bizarre, unique way of seeing things. I find humour brings the characters to life more, though it has to be natural to the situation that the characters are in. You can't just have a character look up into the clouds and say something witty and completely unrelated to what is happening to them (well, I suppose you could, if that fits with their character). When dealing with emotions and humour, it needs to be unique to the character above all else.

Some subjects just naturally gain a smile or a laugh. From little boys giggling in the classroom to old people laughing about it, passing gas is always funny. I added a pig and a kangaroo to Coda to Murder to lighten up this story of mystery and murder. Come on, a pig and a kangaroo always generate a smile. I agree a laugh breaks up the tension and gives the reader a break from the serious, stress inducing scenes.

Dawn Knox author of the upcoming: DAFFODIL AND THE THIN PLACE

Humour is particularly important in children's literature, where characters and situations are often larger than life. However, I think it's less important in adult stories and generally needs to be sophisticated and subtle. When writing, I don't have a hard and fast rule about humour - some characters and situations lend themselves to it and others don't. One of my favourite authors is Terry Pratchett, whose humorous books are so witty, I've been known to laugh out loud when reading them!

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

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

Is Wattpad a good way to promote your work?

Until recently I didn’t know much about Wattpad, but I have had to sit up and pay attention after my thirteen year old daughter showed me a story she had written called ‘Let It Be,’ and placed it there. Her method was to write a chapter and post it to the site. She shared it out over twitter and Facebook etc. She posted another chapter and shared it again and so on. Quite quickly gained a large following. She now has over twelve thousand people reading her story, which is only 30,000 words.
So I have decided this has to be a good thing for us budding authors. You retain ownership of the work and can get it down whenever you chose.  I'm informed two authors, known to my daughter, on Wattpad have gained publication since acquiring a  large following there. If it allows my work to become better known to a wider audience this has to be a good thing. I've uploaded my first chapter of ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Microlight Pilot,’ and I’ll upload the second in the next day or two. Please take  look and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writing Snapshot - Writer/Editor/Reviewer Style

It's me. Your host for Sunday Musings; ChrisChat Reviews; Muse author Christine I Steeves; Muse editor Christine Speakman.

I'm also sharing my writing space and chaotic routine (what routine? I have a routine? I'm suppose to have a routine?)

Onwards to my cave...

First my actual desk then if you could turn around you would see behind me my reading corner and another area I like to work in.

 I know this looks a little busy for some, but for me I like having visual fun around me. I tend to stare off into space thinking and what's better than to have something fun to look at. Besides I find I'm more comfortable talking to inanimate objects than to blank walls.

Everything here keeps me smiling and reminds me to have fun. Oh, those sunset shots, yes I took them myself right out the window behind my keyboard. No, I can't play the keyboard, but that doesn't stop me from trying and having more fun.

The picture to the right...rounded door frames and hallways...I bought that at IKEA because it haunts me and makes me ask...where do they lead; who's hiding in the shadows; what would happen if...

The bowl under my screen...below the glass orange ball...contains stones and crystals. Not only am I a very visual person; I'm a very touchy-feeling object person.

The desk is my mom's. I'm fifty and she's had this desk since she was sixteen, I'll let you assume the age of it. Some have comment about restaining it. Nope, I like worn edges and tops. Little nicks and scratches. It shows the love and endurance.

Moving to my reading corner. The furball's perch, my stool for playing guitar...attempts at playing guitar. Pics from MICHAEL'S we had plak'd. My Nanny's chair...yes, it's like curling up with her when I was small and she would read to me. The CD rack holds drawing instruments...again I can't draw but I don't let that stop me. Along with my journal and other writing notebooks.

Next routine.

I don't think I have one, really. I tend to come here and wing it. Pretty much how I write my the seat of my pants. I know what needs doing by when, but what needs doing even before that. And if I get stuck or mind-blinded by one item, I move on to a new item. Mornings are normally good for emails as they can take the most time. From about noon or one to three I tend to edit or read or blog. My alarm goes off at three to remind me to pick up my daughter from the bus LOL. Then I might be back up here five-ish or six-ish for a bit...more edits. More reviewing.

Personal writing...if we're talking my own fiction, well, uhm, yeah,  that's a whole other ballgame and one I'm starting to cover on my own blog. Let's just say I'm my own worse enemy on that confidence level.

It could appear so easy to get so much done because I'm a stay-at-home-working-from-home mom, but it's not. Family life and life in general makes the same demands on me as out-of-home-working moms and dads and non-parents. There are interruptions from well-meaning people who don't have the experience of what working from home is pretty well trained.

Then there's my own guilt. Maybe I should be out there working. I should have the house perfectly spotless cause I'm home. I'm working? This is working...doesn't feel like work, so I must be doing it wrong. I must not be doing it correctly, better recheck. Am I spending enough time working? I've been sitting how long at the computer...dang no wonder my butt's asleep and I have to pee.

Would I change anything?  Nope, nada, never! Are you crazy? I love every single second of this creative madness. Now if you'll excuse me, I have more edits to finish and then review blogs to update and there's a story creeping in my head and...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest of honour

Hi all

Being a writer sometimes has its benefits. I've been asked as guest of honour to a night out with free dinner on Friday. Well nothings ever free. For my tea I have to tell the guests how I became a published author. I think they want to know my secrets. lol. Good publicity for the books though.


M. P. Ward

Sam and The Sea Witch
Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunday Musings: March 23 2014

ChrisChat aka MuseChrisChat aka Christine Steeves-Speakman back with another sharing of Sunday Musings.

Our Muse Family shares quite a bit of ourselves and this past week I’ve shared a couple of my strange phobias. Okay, one is strange while the other is shared with many and can be quite debilitating…social anxiety. Think stage fright to the point of panic attack that comes across as a heart attack. Fear that stops your life. I’ve relearned how to re-think, so this isn’t as difficult for me as it once was.

The other is strange and slightly crazy…I freak if something/someone touches my hair/top of my head. Too many birds using my head for their droppings? Too many burrs caught and tangled? Just a sensitive head? Who knows, but I laugh about it even as I get the heebie-jeebies when typing this.

One of the things about writing is making your characters realistic…giving them life so your readers believe in them.

Having just shared my insane quirk of hair phobia and remembering someone once telling me that the most interesting characters are those with some type of flaw...what quirk, flaw, phobia does your character have?

And why? Why did you pick that one?

Is it one you've shared with readers or something only you know off page?

Pauline (P.M.) Griffin author of THE STAR COMMANDOS series

Varn has an inbred revulsion for off-prototype humans (mutants).  Once a touch from one physically sickened him, to the fury and disgust of Islaen (his wife and commanding officer).  During his time in the Federation, he has come to recognize the wrong, the injustice, of that attitude and has formed real friendships with individual mutants, but he cannot simply cast off the attitudes ingrained in him since infancy and must watch against being surprised into unwanted reaction.

I didn't select the fault.  It came with the package.  He is an Arcturian, after all.

My character, Carolyn, hyperventilates when she is nervous. This causes Jennifer Taylor a mean girl to bully her about it.

Why I picked this is I wanted her to have something that might be overcome. Also I thought readers might feel sorry for her with this. As for Jennifer's flaw, an eating disorder is also a way to make her more humane. It also explains why she acts so mean. With Jennifer Carolyn realizes her problem isn't as bad as she thought and she learns to live with it.

Meg Amor author of the soon to be released DARK WAR, A WILD DARKNESS STORY

I have three main characters. Henry has panic attacks, which are in the book. I gave him that because I also tie the story in with a WWII past life. The current panic attacks get triggered from an incident in that lifetime, flying a WWII B-17 bomber. He has several bad incidences in this lifetimes, giving himself an awful fright, which leads us to the WWII lifetime, eventually. Once he has the incident rewound for him, he stops having them. I wanted to show vulnerability in Henry, who's super sensitive but very masculine too. And I wanted to show growth in the character.

Izzy has a thing for textures. She cannot eat egg whites without nearly throwing up. Or things like game - rabbits etc. They come under pets for her. The egg whites are in the book, but the game got cut, word count saving measures. LOL. I have these things myself. I will poach a couple of eggs, but only eat the yokes out of them. I can cope with tiny amounts of scrambled eggs, but to sink my teeth into egg white - UGH. It runs in my family too. Yes, I should fix it. LOL. My father has it too.

What's interesting about that, is that I didn't know my father growing up, but it's one of his things as well. I couldn't eat custard or anything slimy like that as a kid. It'd make me dry heave.

I love people's oddities. It's what makes them interesting.

When I started writing Relocated, I wanted to overcome my phobia about sci fi world creation. I never intended to write a series. However, the characters refused to leave me alone. Martin, the main character in Geek Games, was a kid I'd slated as one of the 'bad guys'. He had plenty of flaws, especially a tendency to believe that as a computer hacker he could do no wrong, and that he was immune from the real-world consequences of his actions. He's also guarding secrets he'd intent on guarding, and knuckles under to peer-pressure as a result.

I might not have given him so many flaws if I'd started out making him the main character of a novel, but since he was already formed, so to speak, well ... It made him a much more interesting character than he would have been otherwise.

I was smarter with the main character of the fourth Aleyne novel, the one I'm working on now. He jiggles stones in his pocket when he's nervous, he'd too inclined to follow orders, he's emotionally unavailable -- poor guy!

Tanja Cilia, Content Editor for MuseItUp Publishing, Editor Submission Calls

I write a series of stories (not a book) in different publications meant for children (in Maltese) and they were "born" when I worked at the Fleur de Lys school... that is why they are called Fleur and Lee.

But this is not important, seeing that you wanted Muse books and not flaws.

Thank you for your interest.

The only story about them that has appeared in English is this one:

Fleur and Lee are twins - Fleur may be said to have OCD, Lee has ADHD, so of course they meet in the middle.  I have never said it, but it's obvious to anyone who follows the stories. 

In Crossed Out, whenever Stephanie sees a ghost, her eczema flares up big time.  **I used this because at the time I was dealing with my own eczema issues that were so severe at times that a doctor thought it might be cancer.  The creams I had to use were painful too.  So I decided to use my eczema in a more creative way. 

In No More Goddesses, Jordan is a tad bit OCD and compulsive with her obsession with Audrey Hepburn.  Her wardrobe is based on classic AH outfits that she finds at a local vintage shop.  If she's in a bind?  She uses her favorite phrase: WWAD?  What would Audrey Do? **I thought it would be fun to have a character who idolized a classic 50s star and who better than Audrey Hepburn? 

Her younger brother is a tad bit hyperactive and might even have ADHD.  **I used this as my own son has sensory issues and when he was younger was very hyper.  My own younger brother also had ADD.  And as a first grade teacher, I had my share of students with ADHD.

I think it's important for characters to have flaws. It keeps them realistic, human. 

Dawn Knox author of the upcoming: DAFFODIL AND THE THIN PLACE

With my character, Daffodil, I wanted to explore how a modern teenager might develop and adapt if she were plunged into Victorian life in a rural backwater. Like many teenagers, Daffodil is shy, awkward and desperate to blend into the crowd until a misunderstanding about her nationality gives her the courage to be an individual and to reinvent herself. 

Normally, she would have expected her parents to sort out her problems but now, she has no one to depend on and in fact, she finds that people are relying on her. 

There is a steep learning curve but somehow, Daffodil finds the strength and resolve to meet and overcome the challenges she encounters. 

Gaining confidence and becoming self-reliant is important, so perhaps a trip back to the Victorian times should be compulsory for all teenagers!

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Flash 26: Déjà vu

Déjà vu
Tanja Cilia

We’ve just moved to an old town-house, bursting with antique furniture.

I twist a knob on the bureau. There is a click, and a diary falls out. That’s MY handwriting. Weird.

But…  I never use blue ink, because it reminds me too much of the school homework I loathed so much.

April 12, 1984: Grandpa drove me home after I twisted my ankle when my sister pushed me.  I never had a sister.

June 5.  Crashed and totalled the Malibu. But our car was a Toledo.

My husband returns from work. But he is not my husband. 

If you like this flash fiction don't forget to vote for it in our voting poll on the left side.