Archive for writing

Nov 22: what’s your favorite food or meal?

Fish, glorious Fish!

I might not have picked fish if I were able to eat it at home, but I’m not. My spouse is deathly allergic to anything that swims in water, so the only time I get to eat it is when I g o out for a meal. Tuna sandwiches at lunch counters, shrimp scampi in fine restaurants, baked stuffed cod or boiled lobster, I dream of you all.

Of course, there are lots of other foods I love, including cheese of all kinds. Not that I should be eating cheese, mind you, but it really is another favorite.

Hmm — now, fish with cheese. There’s a thought.
Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor
Ginger Simpson
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosnski
Anne Stenhouse
Heidi M. Thomas
Helena Fairfax
Kay Sisk
Rhobin Courtright

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Nov 19 Janie Franz interview

Tell us something about yourself?

I come from a long line of liars and storytellers. I enjoy enjoy traveling and good conversation. I find people fascinating everywhere I go.

How did you start writing fantasy novels? thebowdancersagabundle

My fantasy writing is grounded in my Bowdancer Saga that began many years ago. The first scene of the first book, The Bowdancer, a novelette, came from a meditation I had. I continued that story through The Wayfarer’s Road and The Warrior Women. Those three books became the Bowdancer Saga. Three more books followed, The Lost Song Trilogy: Verses, Refrain, and Coda.

I have always been fascinated by cultures and that was why I returned to college as a much older than average student to earn a degree in anthropology. Though I’ve read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, it was always those about another culture that interested me the most—not hard science and not dwarves and elves.

From that first meditation, I saw the bowdancer atop a hill shooting out that first flaming arrow to gather her people into a villager to a wedding. I knew her and what she faced immediately. The details of her culture are revealed through the whole series.

I created a world based on a reverence for the earth and work. The books are filled with herb lore (medicinal and culinary), chants and songs, dance, music (though you cannot hear it), spiritual beliefs, and different lifeways of the people the bowdancer meets in her life.

What is your favorite among your own books?

I am quite fond of all six of the Bowdancer books. I think of them, Warrior Women and Verses of the Lost Song Trilogy are probably my favorites.

Of my other books, Sugar Magnolia, a book about the music industry is a favorite.

What is your favorite fantasy novel?

Hmmm. That’s hard to decide. I’ve read a lot of Marian Zimmer Bradley, Ann McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern series), Mercedes Lakey, Ursual Le Guin, and Tolkien, of course, as well as a lot of new writers like Robert Liparulo, Tamora Pierce, and, J. K. Rowlings. It’s really hard to pick just one. I think my whole writing life has been shaped by those authors and others, including some really great mysteries and thriller writers, including Gregg Hurwitz and his page turners.

Can you tell us something about your writing process?

I’m a pantser. I start with an idea and then plunge myself into the story, letting my characters frame the plot. Usually, they don’t lead me wrong. I will do research either before I start a book or during the writing process.

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I think all of my books deal with empowered women characters, especially those in the Bowdancer books. I deal with themes of isolation, difference, bigotry, independence, and a search for meaning and belonging. Because these themes are worked out in a culture in a created world, it is my hope that readers can look at the characters and what happens to them, especially in their relationships, and see parallels in their own lives and in society today.

What are your strengths as a writer? What do you struggle with?

I think my strengths lie in my ability to create realistic characters even though a lot of them are in created worlds. I think every writer faces the challenge of drawing characters that live and breathe on the page. And it is my hope that writers become emotionally involved with mine.

As a writer, I struggle with life intervening into my writing process. I think that has been why writing my next book has been difficult.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is Legacy, the third book of the Ruins trilogy, my archaeology romance thriller series. It’s taken a long time to write this one.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in Santa Fe, NM. I love the landscape here. I’ve been struggling with trying to create a garden here. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s not the soil, the limited water, or the plant varieties. It’s the intense sun at 7200 feet. My choice is either to force my will on the land or let it influence me. Perhaps I need to take a lesson from my own writing process and that is to let the land tell me what to do.

Besides working in my garden, I love to dance and go to archaeology sites—and there are many of them here.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Here is my author’s page at MuseItUp Publishing where you can read excerpts from all my books:

My author website is here:

Where can readers find your books?

My books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other ebooksellers, as well as my publisher’s website.

The Bowdancer Saga is being offered as a bundle in a special for two weeks, starting Nov 28. The first three books of the Bowdancer Saga (The Bowdancer Saga, The Wayfarer’s Road, and Warrior Women) will be available for sale as a bundle for a special price of $2.99 for two weeks only. Those books, if sold separately, would cost $12.50

The bundle is available for presale here:

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Meet author Amanda Faith



When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

It was in the sixth grade. That was when I entered my first contest. We had to write a short story and design and make the book cover. The name of the story was “Tallahassee.” It was about a small colt who was an orphan and wanting to find a home where someone would love him. Although I didn’t win, I knew then I wanted to write.

Who would you cite as your influences?

I remember being so excited about the contest. Mrs. Clay, my English teacher in the sixth grade, really encouraged me to write. My grandfather was also a huge influence. He was a music ghostwriter for some really great artists in the Grand Ole Opry and I would sit and listen to his creativity for hours. He always wanted me to follow my dreams.

What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

Read as much as you can in a variety of genres. Granted, you should read what is “hot” now, but also read classics. Read across the board. The more you read, the more you expand your horizons, the more your inner writer generates new ideas. Remember, you should not write about what is hot now. Write what you feel drawn to. That may become the next “hot” item.

When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’

Probably some of both. It depends on what I am writing. For the academic work, I tend to plan more. There tends to be a lot of research in that. For the creative work, I usually have a general idea of where I am going. My outline is not massively detailed, but I do still use paper and pencil for that. I find that writing down my ideas on paper is my creative venue. Even with that said, sometimes my characters decide they want to go their own way. Sometimes I give in to that to see where it goes. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but if I don’t let them have their voice, I can’t get anything else done.

Tell us about your latest release?

Strength of Spirit is centered on Velvet Moon. She never thought she would have an interesting life. It was ok, just not interesting.

Now her death is another story.

Her and her mother had no idea the day Wren Easton came into their shop would change their lives so much, or that he would involve them in his job with the government.

Did I mention he was like a Ghostbuster 007?

As a ghost, she has to solve her murder, protect her mother, and fight against an evil man that wants to rule the world.

Why not? She has nothing better to do.

This book won the 2014 Gold Global eBook Award for Paranormal Mystery. It’s also UP Author Approved 2013.

You were born in the North and now live in the South.  What would you say are the main differences between these two halves of the US?

I moved South my senior year in high school. It was a major culture shock for me. Granted, all of the US speaks English, but the South has its own “English.” It took me a little bit to get use to the common terminology here, but I love living in South Carolina. It’s friendly and a lot warmer than Ohio. I really don’t miss the snow and ice.

The term ‘Southern Hospitality’ is so true. I find that people are more friendly here than in the North. The lifestyle is more laid back. Here in the South, sweet tea and grits are staple food products and “y’all” really is a word.

I think one of the major differences is the schools. Unfortunately in the South, they tend to be behind the academic growth. I am not sure if it’s because of the slower paced lifestyle here or something else. I wish it were not that way. Our kids suffer because of it.

Your bio says you’re involved in Dragon Con, which is famous amongst geeks as The Con to attend. If you were to convince a con-goer to part with her hard-earned cash  to attend Dragon Con, how would you sell it?

It is the geekiest place on earth. I am constantly amazed at the variety of events and panels available to everyone. It’s not your comic book special. There are so many panels to attend, gaming to play, art to see, stars to ogle over, parties to attend, gatherings to join, people to meet…it is a plethora of everything geek. You can make some really great friends. I have been going for years, even before I was on staff. I have yet to meet anyone nasty. There are so many people there of like mind, it’s like having a huge family. Last year, 62,000 attendees descended on downtown Atlanta, Georgia. That is so mind-boggling. It’s for the young and the young-at-heart. Even though I am 50, I have never been sneered at by the younger generation attending the Con. My students love the fact that I attend every year. They tell me they can see the joy on my face talking about it.

Any works in progress you can tell us about?

I have 2 more books completed, a third more than half done, and another idea I am outlining.

I am trying to finish the edits on the second book in the Velvet Moon series. It is complete. I just need to polish it before I send it out. It has an Alice-in-Wonderland element in it. Velvet definitely has her hands full with this one.

The other I have finished is a science-fiction piece. A young woman discovers her power in art and the control she may have over others for justice to prevail. Again, it’s complete, but I have to do the edits.

I hate editing…lol. I have to get it in gear, though.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’ve had to recently give up scuba diving and motorcycle riding (due to degenerative arthritis). I loved doing those things. I am an amateur radio operator. I go for walks in the woods and on the beach. I love reading and traveling. I have been to several countries. (The UK is on my list. I can’t wait to go). I am one to try new things. Although I love quiet time, I can’t imagine being in a rut.


2012-10-04 10.09.35



Strength of Spirit Blurb

My name was Velvet Moon. Guess it still is. I never thought I would have an interesting life. It was ok, just not interesting.

Now my death is another story.

Momma and I had no idea the day Wren Easton came into our shop would change our lives so much, or that he would involve us in his job with the government.

Did I mention he was like a Ghostbuster 007? Interesting job.

Now I have to solve my murder, protect my mother, and fight against an evil man that wants to rule the world.

Why not? I have nothing better to do.




What a cool job.

Up until a few hours ago, I never knew a job like Wren’s existed. Now I discover his type of occupation has been around for at least a century. Goes to prove the government does all kinds of things we normal people don’t know about.

Like I would know what normal was. Yeah, right.

 I learned about his training and his testing. He had been targeted at a young age. and under consideration for the job from early in his life. It seems those intelligence tests we took in school are more than just information for the school system. The government wants to see who is “above the norm.” Wren proved himself to be extremely intelligent, physically fit, and had psychic abilities.

Apparently, he remained unaware how much ability he possessed, or he would not have been able to fend off his recent attack the way he did. It seemed his natural abilities took over.

I probed him, gently and in sections. I didn’t want to create more chaos within his head than was already there. His psyche needed healing. This was where my witchy talents came in. It took a little time, but at least I managed to bandage him up, so to speak. I learned more about the current case he was working on.

His latest mission centered on Michael York a businessman always in the papers for one kind of philanthropic work at a hospital, or library, or something. He appeared to be the pillar of the community with more money than any three deities. Not married or having any children, he seemed devoted to his business. Little did anyone know his main source of income were drugs and weapons. He kept that hidden pretty well. At least he thought he did until Wren and his guys entered the picture. It was strictly a fluke the whole operation was discovered at all.

Wren learned how Michael York employed his own supernatural help.

Ghosts can go where they want, when they want to. Somehow, York had a medium enslave a spirit. This achievement meant the medium possessed a spell or icon powerful enough to hold the ghost in thrall. Using the spirit to gather information was too precious a commodity for York to ever release the spirit. The entity sold his soul, so to speak, to York, and couldn’t get out of the bargain.

If a ghost sold his soul, who collected and where did it go?

Better yet, how do you store one of those things?

There was a danger in trying to confine a soul. A spirit would only tolerate so much; then it gets even. If a spirit isn’t free to move on, the spirit will eventually possess the person who trapped them. Theoretically, the controlee becomes the controller. Possession had to be agony for both. Once the possession happened, one soul would not be complete without the other for as long as the human body could stand hosting them. I understood that. No one could control me when I was alive. I would get even in the end if someone tried to control me now I’m dead.

What amazed me was how the spirits communicated with each other. At least it won’t be a lonely life once this situation with Big Burly was sorted. It explained where the voices were coming from. I can hear anyone—anything—close, it would seem. Maybe part of this ability came from being psychic. It’s all so new and not like I’ve had a lot of time to explore this new aspect of my existence. Wren didn’t appear to have any more useful information. He understood ghosts to a degree and how to summon one, but he didn’t have long conversations with one to learn about the inner workings of the spirit realm. He was strictly the hit man.

Apparently, Wren got caught going back to house of Michael York’s medium. Big Burly roughed him up, but Wren managed to escape. The whole thing became evident to me as I realized something.

They let him go.

Wren possessed an item Michael York wanted; a charm of some sort. The talisman was extremely important. York wanted it back. It was worth killing over. Now Wren held the item, he’d hidden it. The importance of the charm wasn’t immediately obvious and I didn’t want to probe deeply since Wren was pretty banged up.

I let go. Wren came back into focus. The link worked both ways, and now he understood me a little better.

Velvet, I’ll see what new information I can find out about the amulet and about Michael York for you. Thanks.”

Wren went into the other room and made a few phone calls. It didn’t matter who overheard what anymore. The cards were all laid out on the table, so to speak.

Nia watched our communication transpire. Even though my probing only took a few minutes, watching it happen to someone you love must have seemed kind of freaky.

Velvet, is he going to be alright?”

Yeah, Momma. He is going to be just fine.” I filled Momma in on what I had learned while she sat there, so quiet and subdued.

Wren came back into the room. “I left messages with some people who can help. I need to go stake out York’s home to see if I can discover anything. I can’t waste time sitting here.”

Nia jumped up. “No. You need time to heal. You’re only going to make matters worse.”

Wren took her into his arms and held her close, kissing the top of her head. My heart warmed knowing Momma will be loved when I leave here. After a few minutes, he released her.

I have to, Nia. You know that I have to.” Without another word, he left.

Five Fun Facts about Amanda:

  1. Believe it or not, Amanda plays 15 instruments and sings, too.
  2. Amanda’s tombstone will probably ready, “She just had to try one more new thing before she left.”
  3. Amanda likes horror things. She has a collection of creepy dolls, skulls & skeletons, zombies, Teddy Scares, and other horror props. A lot of these are in her classroom.
  4. Living out in the country helps her center and refresh her soul, especially after a hectic day at the high school and evening classes at the college.
  5. Amanda Faith entered her first writing contest in the 6th grade (thanks to Mrs. Clay). The story was named Tallahassee. It was about a young colt who wanted a family to love him. Although she didn’t win, she does attribute her love of writing to this teacher.

Amanda Faith was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, but has lived in the South since 1980. Teaching high school English by day, college English by night, writing, and doing paranormal investigations doesn’t slow her down from having a great time with a plethora of hobbies. Her published credits include short stories, poetry, several journal articles, her doctoral dissertation, and her award-winning book Strength of Spirit. She is a staff writer for The Daily Dragon at Dragon Con. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Masters in Education-English, and a Doctorate in Education-Teacher Leadership.

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Interview with Susan Royal, Nov 7th

How did you come to write your novel?

I can never remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a writer. I must have Bio photostarted at least 50 different stories at different times in my life, only to set them aside after hitting a snag with the plot, losing interest or getting busy with something else. A little more than 10 years ago we bought our first home computer. My youngest was about to graduate from high school and I actually had some free time. I made up my mind that If I was ever going to write a book and finish it, now was the time. I had the opening scene of Not Long Ago written for at least a year before I went any further with it. It could have gone in a thousand different directions, but the romantic in me knew I had to explore the connection between the man and the woman who saw each other by accident through the coffee shop window.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?

If I had the musical abilities my children have inherited from my husband, I’d be a musician. I can carry a tune, but that’s as far as it goes. Oh well, someone has to be there to appreciate their efforts.

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in between? Somewhere in between. Too much plotting and I lose my creative flow and stagnate. Too little and my storyline suffers. I always have an idea where I want to begin and where I want to end. The journey from start to finish is an adventure.

What’s your favorite book in your genre, and why? While I have many, one in particular comes to mind. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Okay, it isn’t just the Scotsmen in kilts, I promise. There’s just something about a love between to people that stand the test of time. I know. I’m a hopeless Romantic.

What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?

Early on I was lucky enough to submit my work to an editor and an agent who took the time to encourage me to continue writing. They told me my strong points and what I needed to develop further. After I got over feeling rejected, I took what they said to heart and learned. I entered and won short story contests and continued reading, writing, learning, editing. I never EVER gave up. In June of 2010, I submitted to MuseItUp and the rest is history.

Do you read books about writing? Why or why not? The only one I ever read from cover to cover was Stephen King’s book. I’ve been known to skim them the same way I do when I’m researching for something to use in a book, but my best way to learn is by trial and error. Somewhere along the line, I find the perfect example of what I’m trying to get across to my reader and it all falls into place.

What do you consider your greatest strengths as a writer? I’ve been told I’m good with emotions, which makes me feel good, because it’s something I constantly strive to achieve. Another thing is characters. I have great fun developing them.

What are you working on now? I’m working on the third book in my It’s About Time Series. I’m about 10,000 words in and it’s going good so far.

What would you like readers to take away from your book? I’d like them to come away with the satisfaction you get when you’ve read something you don’t want to end.

Where can readers buy your book?

MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Where can readers find you on the web?

My blog is

My website is (due for a major update as soon as I can get to it!)

Any last words?

Thanks for having me Margaret. Talking about the writing process never fails to give me renewed purpose and the incentive I need for writing. Now I’m chomping at the bits!

A few words from Susan

In Not Long Ago, the first book of my It’s About Time series, Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times– somewhere around 600 years. Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something is not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. But Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed. Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as handsome Sir Griffin’s squire. She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty. Yet, she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. But Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.Not long ago333x500

After I signed with MuseItUp, in June 2011, my daughter, Carrie, read the manuscript to get a feel for the book trailer she was creating. She read the last page and called me immediately. Our conversation went like this:

That’s not the end, is it?”

Didn’t you like it?” I felt as though I’d resolved all the major questions and ended the story in a good place.

Yeah, but…you can’t stop there.”

“What do you mean?”

Erin and Griffin’s story isn’t finished. I want to know what happens next!”

And that’s how it became a series. In Not Long Ago, I pictured a young woman in her twenties hurrying down a busy city sidewalk. One her way past a coffee shop, she notices a handsome stranger through the window. Their eyes meet and what she sees leaves her reeling. Not only does she recognize him, she knows things about the man…but how? Who is he? From there, the story could have gone anywhere. Turns out it did. The idea of time travel has always fascinated me. Imagine getting up close and personal with history. Experiencing what life is really like in another time. My main characters, Erin and Griffin, meet and fall in love in a medieval world. From Now On takes up where it leaves off. Some of my favorite characters from the first book are back. Arvo: the tall gangly young man with a disreputable shock of red hair who becomes Erin’s good friend and confidant. Sir Edevane: Griffin’s fellow knight and friend. Kat: Griffin’s fiesty little sister. Sir Griffin travels across FromNowOn_200x300centuries to find Erin, the woman he loves. Before they can begin their new life together, he’s sent on a mission to a strange island. When he doesn’t return as planned, Erin assembles a group of his friends to search for him. Followed by his strong-willed sister, Kateryn, they travel to Swansea and secure passage with the notorious Captain Akin. Erin discovers firsthand how the island has earned its dark reputation when she battles freakish weather, encounters a race of little people known as “Prowlies” and experiences ghosts of the long departed. Even worse, she discovers there are “ley lines” crossing the island’s mountain peak, creating all sorts of strange phenomena, such as time travel. Yet these obstacles pale in comparison to the secrets Erin uncovers while trying to rescue the man she loves. If you love a time travel adventure with a twist (and a love story) and haven’t read Not Long Ago, please do. You can continue Erin and Griffin’s story with From Now On, coming out in spring/summer 2014. As for what happens after that? It’s too soon to tell, but I can promise you it will be an adventure.

In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Book Trailer:

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago book trailer

Both books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town that comes complete with a ghost who has been known to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

Susan is married and the mother of six (she counts her children’s spouses as her own) and five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. Her father told her about growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and she experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.

Susan loves to take her readers through all kinds of adventures with liberal doses of romance. Her latest book is From Now On, a time travel adventure/romance. It’s the stand-alone sequel to Not Long Ago in her It’s About Time series. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. Odin’s Spear, one of her short stories is featured in a Quests, Curses, and Vengeance anthology, Martinus Publishing, available on Amazon.

Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, I make my home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town that comes complete with a ghost who harmonizes with my son when he plays guitar.

I’m married and the mother of six (I count my children’s spouses as my own) and five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. My family is rich with characters, both past and present. When I was growing up, I loved listening to family stories. My grandmother shared what it was like, living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. My father talked about growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and I experienced being a teenager during WWII through my mother’s eyes.

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Interview with Mary Jean Harris, Nov. 3

Mary-JeanHarris-InverlochyTell us something about yourself

I’ll choose something sort of random and say that the first story I wrote was an adventure story about Neopets (online pets) when I was about 7. When I look back at it, I’m surprised at how much I wrote. I never finished it, and I don’t think I had a plan of where it was going, but it was a neat story in any case. I also used to write a lot in a journal, and I really like reading my entries now. They’re so fun to read!

Your first novel has just come out. How did you come to write it?

When I first started writing Aizai the Forgotten, I hadn’t intended for it to be a novel. It started with me just speculating about a lost world that had come into existence and then had vanished, so I decided to write about it. I added a boy who had read about this world and was trying to discover what it was and if he could get to it. I was also trying to discover what Aizai was, but after a while, I figured it out, and plotted it out more to finish it.

This is the first novel in a series. How much planning did you do for the series as a whole, as opposed to the novel itself?AzaitheForgotten1600x2400

I didn’t have any plans for the series before I started writing Aizai the Forgotten, but as I progressed through the story, I realized that there was a lot more that I could cover for a larger series, both with the main character, Wolfdon, and other characters. So I am planning to follow Wolfdon and a few other characters for a few books and then progress to other times and places (not necessarily on Earth) with other characters. They’ll still be related though in the larger series The Soul Wanderers though.

I hear that some writers create a ‘series bible.’ Did you do this, and if not, how are you keeping track of the series elements from one book to the next?

I really should have a series bible! What I do have is a haphazard mess of papers and tabs in notebooks that refer to different things to do with the series, though I do have some folders for theory, characters, or plot, so I try to put the papers into the right folders. Somehow, working out alright, but since I don’t do any plotting or writing on the computer (except for typing up my story and then editing), the paper organization gets a bit crazy. It’s all fun though!

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in between?

I’m a mix of both. I do planning mostly on the go. I write a bit, plot a bit, then write more, and plot more… Though even with some planning at the onset, I modify things a lot as I write. I make up new plans and don’t fit in some of my original ones because the events and the characters lead me elsewhere. I get a lot of inspiration as I’m writing, so I can’t really plan everything at the start anyway. For short stories though, I try to plan them more so they don’t all turn into novels. Since short stories usually only cover one main topic anyway, I find it isn’t too difficult to plan before writing, even if the details get filled in as I write it.

What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

I get a lot of good advice from the author David Farland’s “Kick in the Pants” newsletter. One especially good one was about adding plot twists and unique elements to your writing. What a writer should ask themselves is “What couldn’t possibly happen?” You’ll have to stretch your imagination to answer this, and in doing so, you might find a surprising direction to turn your story to.

As for the worst writing advice, I’ll choose a quote that wasn’t actually given to me, but it is about writing all the same. Oscar Wilde said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”  Normally, I love Oscar Wilde, especially his book The Picture of Dorian Gray, but this quote really annoyed me because books greatly affect people’s personality and outlook on life, and so there is a moral responsibility a writer has to their readers. That’s not to say that the protagonist has to be perfect, but if a novel portrays bad things in a good light or does not exemplify good qualities, the author has failed in an important part with their connection to the reader. Whether Oscar Wilde would like it or not, I found his book Dorian Gray a moral book, not because Dorian was moral, but because his degradation exemplifies the consequences of a luxurious and immoral lifestyle, both on himself and the world around him.

What was the most difficult thing for you about writing your novel?

Finding the time to write. It isn’t “difficult” in the sense that something like plotting or crafting characters is, but when you’re busy with a lot of other things, it’s sometimes hard to have the mental energy to write. When I am at school during the year, I don’t write that much, so get most writing done in the summer. But I do try to write during the year, even if it is just a page a day, because then I still progress, and I always have fun when I do it anyway.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the sequel to Aizai, which takes up where the first book left off. In the sequel, there is an extra point of view character, and it takes place in different time periods (the seventeenth century in Spain as well as the twelfth century in Scotland). This involves much more research, but since it is fantasy, most of my books are only loosely historical, so I make up a lot of things myself.

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I don’t plan any particular themes or messages I want readers to take, because I find that these just emerge with the telling of the story. But I do hope that readers gain a sense of hope and inspiration from my stories. I always include magic as a key element, and I make it so that it arises naturally in ways that are in accord with many philosophical and esoteric traditions, so that in a sense, it is possible, and I hope that readers will be more interested in philosophy and the deeper parts of fantasy literature. I think that fantasy has a lot to offer about life and noble qualities, which is something Tolkien talked about in his lovely essay “On Fairy- Stories”.

How much research did you do for your book, and how did you go about it?

Like I said above, I do research more sporadically when it is needed. Depending on what I’m looking for, I might just look online (such as with historical clothing) or get a book from the library (such as with Medieval monasteries, or certain topics in philosophy). For this, I just take notes on things that would be useful or photocopy certain pages. Right now, I’m reading The Philosophy of Ancient Britain for research for my next novel, which is something I would want to read anyway, but it is also useful for things that I’ll incorporate with Druids in my book. Though since I write fantasy, I make up a lot of things myself, so my research is usually just for general historical things such as how people lived in certain times.

Where can readers find you one the web?

(you could just put my website link if you want)

Where can readers buy your book?


Any last words?

For writers out there: find what you really love to write and write that, because that’s the best story for you to tell.

And thanks for interviewing me on your blog!

My Bio:

Mary-Jean Harris writes fantasy and historical fiction, both novels and short stories. Some of her short stories have been published in anthologies and websites, including the upcoming Tesseracts 18 anthology, Polar Expressions Publishing, and Black Lantern Publishing. Two of her short stories have been honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest in 2013 and 2014. Mary-Jean is currently a student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, studying theoretical physics with a minor in philosophy. She has an adorable poodle and a rabbit, and has travelled to England, Scotland, and Peru and hopes to travel to many other interesting places.

Blurb for book:

With an otherworldly horse borrowed from an astrologer, and armed with a strange magical device, seventeen-year-old Wolfdon Pellegrin sets off through seventeenth-century France and Spain to fulfill his dream of finding the forgotten realm of Aizai.

One obscure book, by the philosopher Paulo de la Costa Santamiguero, has given him a lead to start his journey—go to the northern coast of Spain, where a portal to Aizai supposedly exists.

Though death and danger loom ever near, nothing can dim the longing for Aizai kindling within Wolfdon’s heart. Yet even as he strives to discover the mysterious realm’s secrets and fate, a frightening truth becomes clear—one that may cost Wolfdon everything, including the future.

Short Excerpt:

“I must be off,” Wolfdon said, deciding that he would try to find these Philosophers and anyone else who knew about Aizai or Paulo.

Fredrick then took Wolfdon’s arm and whispered, “I suppose you have a proper Wert?”

Wolfdon shook his head, having never heard of a “Wert” before. Fredrick released him and took a thick rod from a strap on his belt. At first glance, it might have been a flattened pickaxe. The rod was made of what appeared to be petrified wood, for it was hued with a pleasant entwinement of red, green, rose, and orange, and the bronze head had two blades that curved down the sides of the rod like the drooping ears of a hound so that the top was smooth and harmless. Mysterious runic writing was etched where the rod met the head.

Seeing Wolfdon’s puzzled expression, Fredrick smiled and said, “This is a spare, fortunately for you.”

“What does it do?” Wolfdon asked.

“That is for the bearer to determine. A Wert is what we make of it—its power will shift accordingly. Ay! Rub that skeptical face away! The best men carry a Wert at all times, even Queen Anne Sophie of Norway.

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Facing Mortality



It happened many years ago. We had just learned  I was pregnant with our second son when I got a call from my mother, with the words no daughter wants to hear: It’s cancer. My mother had cancer of the colon.  She

had had a sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. The lesion was fairly high up in the colon, and the procedure had missed it. Hthen-doctor, not the brilliant diagnostician his dead partner, my mother’s former doctor, had been, had been slow to put together the symptoms. By the time he did, the cancer had spread to the liver. It was October, and by June she was dead.

At about the same time, I was offered some freelance work that would have brought in a significant amount of money, money we could have used. But I had a full-time job, a small son, a pregnancy, and a sick mother. I turned the work down, instead passing on the name of a friend — he later joked that I’d payed for the addition on his house. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Instead of spending my weekends working, I spent them traveling back and forth from Boston to New York.

Here is a poem inspired by this experience:


Mother’s Day, Margaret Fieland

He died
the white-haired doctor
with smiling eyes,

leaving you
to the quick-voiced young one,
who called your cramps indigestion.

Your hair became
sparse as grass during a dry August,

your walk
creaky as the old pasture gate,

your frame as thin
and brittle as the bare branches
of the old oak.

until finally
you lay in bed, smelling
of old guts, too weak
to lift your head.

We named
the baby
after you

You cam find it and other poems in the collection Lifelines.

Heidi M.
Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
A.J. Maguire
Rachael Kosnski
Margaret Fieland
Geeta Kakade
Marci Baun
Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier
Rita Karnopp  NEED URL
Ginger Simpson
Rhobin Courtright

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Meet Sara Jayne Townsend

Sara Townsend (45) smallWhy There’s No Happy Ever After for my characters

By Sara Jayne Townsend

I’ve never been a fan of romance novels. Even as a youngster I had a streak that could be described as practical or cynical, depending on how you look at it. I was the girl that all the boys left alone in high school. I think they either saw me as too weird or too geeky. So while my peers were reading Sweet Valley High romances and fantasising about the perfect partner, I was discovering Stephen King and fantasising about having telekinetic powers like Carrie, able to kill off all the classmates who were mean to me by the power of my mind. Well, I said people found me weird. Fortunately for all concerned I was also writing horror at that point, and able to channel my preoccupation for violence onto the page.

From being a teen I’ve had a leaning towards crime and horror and not romance. I totally get why romance is popular – people like the idea of the ‘happy ever after’. But somehow I’d rather write about murder and mayhem than ‘happy ever after’.

However, when I created my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, I had to give some thought to the relationships she would have. My character is a straight, single, 29-year old actress. It seemed logical to assume there would be men in her life. However, it was a conscious decision on my part to give her something of a disastrous track record. Flawed characters are just more interesting. And although in real life we all strive to find The One – that soul mate that we can share our lives with and live happily ever after, in a series there has to be something beyond the ‘happy ever after’. Conflict makes for more interesting stories. And the fictional heroines which inspired me to write a mystery series – Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski; Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone; Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan – are all perpetually single. Lovers come and go throughout these series, but these women always seem to end up alone.

A sub-plot of DEATH SCENE is a rather uneven relationship that Shara starts up with a fellow actor, and I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but her romantic future is destined to be somewhat rocky. And I do somewhat sympathise with the men in her life – I can’t imagine this character I created would be an easy person to live with.

Will Shara end up with her Happy Ever After? I can honestly say I don’t know. Characters sometimes have a habit of insisting in going in directions the author hasn’t envisaged, so who knows what might happen?


Dead Cool 200x300Dead Cool Blurb

They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with.  Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window.  It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed.  His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?


PokDeath Scene 200x300ing around in family closets produces skeletons…

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

DEATH SCENE is coming 22 September from MuseItUp Publishing:

SJT Bio 2014

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

The first book in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers, DEATH SCENE, is now available, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, released on 25 November and available for pre-order. Visit the MuseItUp Publishing book store to buy both:

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at or her blog at

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Rosemary Morris Interview Oct 15


Today I’m interviewing the lovely Rosemary Morris, author of The Captain and the Countess

Rosemary Morris - Small photoTell us something about yourself.

There is a gigantic canvas for a historical novelist to choose from. So far I have chosen to set my published novels in the England of Queen Anne Stuart 1702 – 1714 and the popular Regency era.

I chose those periods in which to set my novels in because each of them affected the course of history. If the Duke of Marlborough had not won The War of Spanish Succession and The Duke of Wellington had not defeated Napoleon at The Battle of Waterloo the history of Britain and that of Europe would have been very different, and would also had far-reaching consequences for other countries. If Edward II had won the Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce would have probably been killed. It is feasible that the king would most likely have conquered Scotland and, perhaps, as it is claimed, he would not have been murdered.

The more I read about my chosen eras the more fascinated I become and the more aware of the gulf between those periods of history and my own. I believe those who lived in the past shared the same emotions as we do but their attitudes and way of life were in many ways quite different to ours. One of the most striking examples is the position of women in society in bygone ages.

I present women who are of their time, not cardboard characters dressed in costume who behave like 21st century women. Of course, it is almost impossible to completely understand our ancestors but through extensive research I ensure my characters observe the social etiquette of their life and times in order not to become outcasts from society.

Tell us something about your books

I describe my books as romantic historicals in which I do not open the bedroom door wide. In my novels I recreate the clothes, food, social and economic history and much more.

The heroine in Sunday’s Child set in the Regency era does not want to marry ‘a military man’ for fear that, like her father and brothers, he will die fighting against Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsula. The hero is affected by a tragic occurrence and doubts he will ever marry and have a family.

My second Regency Novel, False Pretences, concerns a young woman sent to a boarding school at the age of five. At eighteen years of age Annabelle is desperate to know who her parents were and who her unknown guardian is. When Annabelle is ordered to marry a French Baron with a bad reputation she runs away. With the help of a gentleman, who rescues her from a footpad, she begins to unravel the false pretences in her life but does not know if she can forgive her rescuer for his.

I have also written three novels set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart 1702-1714.

Tangled Love opens when Richelda Shaw’s father decides to follow James II to France. He swore an oath of allegiance to James so his conscience does not allow him to swear an oath of allegiance to James’s daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange during James’ lifetime. Before he leaves he asks Richelda to swear on the Bible to do all in her power to regain Field House, their ancestral home sequestered after the Civil War. Richelda goes from riches to rags and rags to riches while trying to keep her promise.

After serving in India with the East India Company from the age of fourteen, Gervaise, the hero of Far Beyond Rubies returns to England influenced by some Hindu beliefs. When he first sees Juliana, the heroine Gervaise senses he knows her but not during their present life. He questions whether the Hindu belief in reincarnation is valid. A chance meeting again brings him into contact with Juliana, who is determined to prove her father left Riverside to her, not her half-brother, in accordance with her grandfather’s will. Gervaise helps Juliana to dicover the astonishing truth.

In my most recent novel, The Captain and The Countess, Captain Howard, who is on half pay from Queen Anne’s navy. is captivated by Kate, Countess of Sinclair, whose nickname is The Fatal Widow. Married off to a cruel older man, beautiful, fascinating, wealthy Kate enjoys her independence and has no intention of marrying again. However, the captain, a talented artist, is the only person to see the grief behind Kate’s fashionable façade.

What got you started writing historical fiction?

At primary school my head was full of stories about times past. At grammar school my love of English Literature, geography and history grew and sparked my imagination. I read historical fiction and was inspired by many authors. It was inevitable that one day my love of history and reading would lead to my writing romantic historicals.

How much research do you do for your books, and how do you go about it?

I read dozens of books, google, but double check information, and visit places of historical interest, museums and exhibitions.

What are you working on now?

I am writing Monday’s Child, a follow on novel from Sunday’s Child, set in Brussels during the 100 days between Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Brussels and the Battle of Waterloo.

I am also revising the first book in trilogy, Dear Heart, a historical novel set in the reign of Edward II of England.

When did you start writing fiction for publication? What was the push that got you started?

I wrote years ago while living in Kenya and had two novels accepted. However, I did not know that the date of publication should be included in the contracts. In one case the publishing house amalgamated with another, in the other the new commissioning editor did not like my novel. Discouraged, and due to circumstances, I stopped writing until I returned to England. Tangled Love was published as Tangled Lvies by an online publisher which went bankrupt. After bitter tears, I submitted to MuseItUp Publishing, signed the contract with them and continued writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both. After I decide on the plot and theme of my novel I fill in detailed biographies for my main characters. I jot down main events and then see where the characters will take me.

Do you have a writing routine?

Yes, one I try to adhere to. On most mornings I wake up at 6 a.m. have a glass of lemon juice in hot water and then write until 10 a.m., with a break for breakfast.

If I am at home, I work from 1.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and then from 4 or 5 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m.

These hours include writing my novels, researching them, blogging and much more.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got? The worst?

The best advice was to join The Romantic Novelist’s New Writers Scheme.

The worst advice was to begin Sunday’s Child on the battlefield.

Who are your favorite authors in your genre?

Elizabeth Chadwick, Catherine Cookson (Sara Dane), Bernard Cornwall (Sharpe Series) Sergeanne, Golon, Georgette Heyer, M.M.Kaye, Baroness Orczy, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Anya Seton and many more authors.

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

I want my readers to feel they stepped into another world at another time and for the memory of my novel/s to linger in their minds after they reach the end of each one with a deep, satisfied sigh.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Rosemary’s e-books published by MuseItUp Publishing in e-book or paper-back form from all online retailers such as, iBook, Nook etc.are available from the publisher, Amazon-kindle, ibooks, Nook and other reputable vendors.

You can read the first three chapters of my novels and view the book trailers on my website

Follow my blogs at: and

Contact me at: but don’t forget to enter Margaret Fieland’s Interview as the Subject or I will delete it from my Junk Folder.

I would be delighted to hear from you, receive your comments and maybe your reviews if you choose to read my novels.

Any last words?

Unless an author chooses to self-publish the road to publication can be very hard but I have no regrets over taking that rocky road.

Blurb for The Captain and The Countess

Why does heart-rending pain lurk in the back of the wealthy Countess of Sinclair’s eyes?

Captain Howard’s life changes forever from the moment he meets Kate, the intriguing Countess and resolves to banish her pain.

Although the air sizzles when widowed Kate, victim of an abusive marriage meets Edward Howard, a captain in Queen Anne’s navy, she has no intention of ever marrying again.

However, when Kate becomes better acquainted with the Captain she realises he is the only man who understands her grief and can help her to untangle her past

Excerpt from The Captain and The Countess



Extract from Chapter One; The Captain and The Countess

London 1706

Edward, the Right Honourable Captain Howard, dressed in blue and white, which some of the officers in Queen Anne’s navy favoured, strode into Mrs Radcliffe’s spacious house The Captain and The Countess 200x300near St James Park.

Perkins, his godmother’s butler, took his hat and cloak. “Madam wants you to join her immediately.”

Instead of going upstairs to the rooms his godmother had provided for him during his spell on half pay—the result of a dispute with a senior officer—Edward entered the salon. He sighed. When would his sixty-one year old godmother accept that at the age of twenty-two he was not yet ready to wed?

He made his way across the elegant, many windowed room through a crowd of expensively garbed callers.

When Frances Radcliffe noticed him, she turned to the pretty young lady seated beside her. “Mistress Martyn, allow me to introduce you to my godson, Captain Howard.”

Blushes stained Mistress Martyn’s cheeks as she stood to make her curtsey.

Edward bowed, indifferent to yet another of his grandmother’s protégées. Conversation ceased. All eyes focussed on the threshold.

Lady Sinclair,” someone murmured.

Edward turned. He gazed without blinking at the acclaimed beauty, whose sobriquet was ‘The Fatal Widow’.

The countess remained in the doorway, her cool blue eyes speculative.

Edward whistled low. Could her shocking reputation be no more than tittle-tattle? His artist’s eyes observed her. Rumour did not lie about her Saxon beauty.

Her ladyship was not a slave to fashion. She did not wear a wig, and her hair was not curled and stiffened with sugar water. Instead, her flaxen plaits were wound around the crown of her head to form a coronet. The style suited her. So did the latest Paris fashion, an outrageous wisp of a lace cap, which replaced the tall, fan-shaped fontage most ladies continued to wear perched on their heads.

Did the countess have the devil-may-care attitude gossips attributed to her? If she did, it explained why some respectable members of society shunned her. Indeed, if Lady Sinclair were not the granddaughter of his godmother’s deceased friend, she might not be received in this house.

The lady’s fair charms did not entirely explain what drew many gallants to her side. After all, there were several younger beauties present that the gentlemen did not flock around so avidly.

He advanced toward the countess, conscious of the sound of his footsteps on the wooden floor, the muted noise of coaches and drays through the closed windows and, from the fireplace, the crackle of burning logs which relieved the chill of early spring.

The buzz of conversation resumed. Her ladyship scrutinised him. Did she approve of his appearance? A smile curved her heart-shaped mouth. He repressed his amusement. Edward suspected the widow’s rosy lips owed more to artifice than nature.

How do you do, sir,” she said when he stood before her. “I think we have not met previously. Her eyes assessed him dispassionately. My name is Sinclair, Katherine Sinclair. I dislike formality. You may call me Kate.”

Captain Howard at your service, Countess.” Shocked but amused by boldness more suited to a tavern wench than a great lady, Edward paid homage with a low bow before he spoke again. “Despite your permission, I am not presumptuous enough to call you Kate, yet I shall say that had we already met, I would remember you.”

You are gallant, sir, but you are young to have achieved so high a rank in Her Majesty’s navy.”

An unexpected promotion earned in battle which the navy did not subsequently commute.”

You are to be congratulated on what, I can only assume, were acts of bravery.”

Thank you, Countess.”

The depths of her ladyship’s sapphire cross and earrings blazed, matching his sudden fierce desire.

Kate, some four inches shorter than Edward, looked up at him.

He leaned forward. The customary greeting of a kiss on her lips lingered longer than etiquette dictated. Her eyes widened before she permitted him to lead her across the room to the sopha on which his godmother sat with Mistress Martyn.

With a hint of amusement in her eyes, Kate regarded Mrs Radcliffe. “My apologies, madam, I suspect my visit is untimely.”

Her melodious voice sent shivers up and down his spine, nevertheless, Edward laughed. Had the countess guessed his godmother, who enjoyed match-making, wanted him to marry Mistress Martyn? No, he was being too fanciful. How could she have guessed?

You are most welcome, Lady Sinclair. Please take a seat and partake of a glass of cherry ratafia.” Frances said.

Perhaps, milady prefers red viana,” Edward suggested

Captain, you read my mind, sweet wine is not to my taste.”

In response to the lady’s provocative smile, heat seared his cheeks.

Kate smoothed the gleaming folds of her turquoise blue silk gown. The lady knew how to dress to make the utmost of her natural beauty. Her gown and petticoat, not to mention sleeves and under-sleeves, as well as her bodice and stays, relied for effect on simple design and fine fabrics. He approved of her ensemble, the elegance of which did not depend on either a riot of colours or a multitude of bows and other trimmings. Later, he would sketch her from memory.

Kate inclined her head to his godmother. “Will you not warn your godson I am unsound, wild, and a bad influence on the young?”

Edward gazed into Kate’s eyes. Before his demise, had her husband banished her to a manor deep in the country? If it was true, why did he do so?

Kate’s eyebrows slanted down at the inner corners. She stared back at him. He laughed, raised her hands to his lips and kissed each in turn. “I look forward to furthering my acquaintance with you.”

High-handed.” Kate gurgled with laughter. “Captain, please release me.”

What did he care if she were some ten years his elder? He wanted to get to know her better. Edward bowed. “Your slightest wish is my command.”


Rosemary Morris was born in 1940 in Sidcup Kent. As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’

While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her Indian husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College. In 1961 Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived from 1961 until 1982. After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.

Back in England, Rosemary wrote historical fiction. She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society and Watford Writers.

Apart from writing, Rosemary enjoys classical Indian literature, reading, visiting places of historical interest, vegetarian cooking, growing organic fruit, herbs and vegetables and creative crafts.

Her bookshelves are so crammed with historical non-fiction which she uses to research her novels that if she buys a new book she has to consider getting rid of one.

Time spent with her five children and their families, most of whom live near her is precious.

E.books published by: MuseItUp Publishing available from the publisher, Amazon and elsewhere.

Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies (also available as a paperback) False Pretences, Sunday’s Child. New release 21st February 2014 The Captain and the Countess.

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The Problem with Paranormal: Guest Post by C. David Rollins for Oct 10

The Problem with the Paranormal:CDavidRollins_headshot_ps-1

I love stories with paranormal elements. From John Carter’s out-of-body experience in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars to Spock’s mind meld, and Obi Wan Kenobi’s Jedi powers, the paranormal is a frequent element of science fiction and lends some mystery to what could become dry, hard SF.

But giving a character paranormal abilities can be a problem. It’s a little bit like cell phones. The problem is, it solves too many problems. The key, I have found is to make the ability the problem and not the solution.

In Ambassador from Earth , Ellen is visited in her dreams by an angel who tells her that an old, beat-up, abandoned van in the woods near her home is actually an interstellar spaceship. She convinces her friends to check it out with her, and in fact it is and spaceship, holographically disguised. Through navigational misadventure they arrive at a giant space station many light years from Earth run by ruthless aliens. Ellen continues to receive instructions from her “angel” which we learn is an alien intelligence, a memory from the dead alien who brought the spacecraft to Earth originally. The alien leads her to a doomsday device he has left on the station that will destroy the super bad guy aliens. It will also mean sacrificing herself in the process and millions of innocents living in the solar system where the space station is located.

If Ellen knew all this up front the story would be a lot different. Having access to everything her “angel” knows might have kept her from ever setting foot on the spacecraft. In this case she is limited by how she perceives the alien (as an angel) and what he chooses to reveal and what she is capable of understanding. Extra-sensory perception is limited by the same unconscious biases, beliefs, culture, and expectations as normal sensory perceptions.

In my newest work, Theodore Grayson and the Devil Men of Mars (still under construction), I’m writing about another young woman gifted with clairvoyance. Truth is she’d rather be without it, especially after the British government sends her to Mars as part of a global arms race with the Germans. Now poor Lydia is millions of miles from home and the only one there her age is an American ruffian named Theodore who she quickly comes to despise. The ruins of an ancient Martian civilization have strange and traumatic effects on the seventeen-year old, nearly driving her mad. Here, the character’s personal desires are at odds with her abilities and with almost everyone else. She trusts no one and her main desire is to stay as far away from the ruins as possible and get back to Earth and London as soon as she can. Even if her clairvoyance could see exactly what the Germans are doing she would not feel obliged to tell anyone about it.

Of course the paranormal can help drive the solution of the main problem. Ellen’s contact with the alien will give her insights to defeat the really big bad aliens. Lydia will learn to control her abilities and gain incredible new ones. But simply turning into vampire or a Jedi or a teenage mutant ninja tadpole should be the beginning of the story not the end of it.




Ambassador from EarthAmbassador From Earth



“James, you pimped the spaceship.”


Matthew Roper, and his friends, Ellen Thompson and James Lovely, discover an advanced alien spacecraft disguised as a beat up old van abandoned years ago in the woods near their homes. Soon they find themselves thrust into danger, intrigue, and war many light-years from Earth.


The Galactic Concordance is a ruthless organization of alien empires that grinds other civilizations into dust. Lost, the band of eighth graders fly to a giant space station looking for help, but are mistaken as diplomats by the Concordance.


The aliens try to strike a deal, but the children soon learn the fate of other worlds that have accepted the “help” that the Concordance offers. If the aliens learn the truth about who they are and where they are from, Earth will be annihilated.


The spacecraft’s previous master has left a fearsome device on the space station and Ellen holds the key to unlocking its power. Matt and his friends must choose between saving themselves or saving Earth.





“This is our trade station. The one of which I spoke,” said Kritar.

“What’s it doing here?”

“When the Skleth finished with our world, they must have moved it to the sixth planet, Sudos, and turned it into one of their enclaves.”

“We’re heading to one of the landing platforms,” said James.

The ship entered a large landing bay the size of a football field. The entrance was along the equator, between where the two pyramids forming the station joined. Gigantic sliding doors over a hundred feet high closed behind us, and minutes later the ship’s console chirped, indicating a breathable atmosphere now filled the chamber to a pressure equal to that inside the ship. Artificial gravity turned on in the bay, also equal to the .59 g inside the ship. Pop-up messages on the environmental screen assured us there was nothing dangerous in the air.

Ellen opened the rear hatch. Then we heard her scream the kind of scream you hear in horror movies.

Two gigantic upright scorpions met me at the hatch. Their black exoskeletons and double action pincer claws made them look like beasts from the ninth level of Hell. They stood over eight feet tall, with huge boxy bodies attached to a segmented abdomen out of which sprouted four very bug-looking legs. Two arms extended from the torso ended in multi-bladed pincers, easily capable of snapping a person’s head off.

I spoke into the tube. “Hey. What’s up, guys?”

One of the two creatures made a series of buzzes, chirps, and clicks. “Greetings Ambassador. His Excellency, the Prefect, sends his regards. Are all your staff embarked?”

There are others with me,” I said.

The creature continued making sounds. “We received no communication announcing your arrival. Are more of your ships inbound?”

Just us,” I said.

The Prefect regrets the hasty preparations. A diplomatic module is being prepared for your use. If you will accompany us, we will bring you to your embassy.”

Sure, that would be great,” I said.

Prying Ellen out of the front seat of the ship almost took a crowbar. She was terrified of these creatures. They scared the you-know-what out of me, too, but they were being very polite. Besides, if they’d wanted to, they could have stripped our bones clean by now.

We were led through a passage to a transparent wall through which we could see inside. The entire interior of the station was one super large chamber. Big doesn’t come close to describing it. Standing in the Superdome, you’d see big. This was more like being an ant standing in the Superdome. Blazing lights along the walls lit the inside of the station as bright as daylight, but with more yellow than sunshine on Earth. Elevated highways extended from a wide ledge running around the entire chamber. Vehicles, some as big as buses, and some as small as toys, zipped around the outside perimeter and along the causeways on grooved tracks. In the center of the great room, floating in mid air, were structures like buildings, of many different shapes. The buildings were all connected by tubes and spires, branched out of the sides of the station walls to the buildings.

It’s a floating city,” James said, and that was the best way I think any of us could describe it.

The scorpion creatures led us down a winding series of ramps branching off from the passage outside the landing bay. Eventually, we came to a smaller room, with transparent walls on either side.

We must await transport,” said one of the creatures. “The atmosphere within the main chamber is incompatible with your environmental requirements.”

A vehicle pulled alongside the room and docked by extending a flexible membrane. A part of the transparent wall slid open and we entered the vehicle. It sped down a grooved track for several hundred meters, before switching to another track, taking us along one of the causeways toward the center of the station.

This is different than I remember,” said Kritar. “Most of the internal space was used for storing freight, and fuel for our ships, before.”

With so many different species, each with their own atmosphere and gravity requirements, they’ve built all kinds of different modules inside now,” I said.

Nice town,” said James, “any good places to eat?”

You will find nutritional units at the facility prepared for you,” chirped one of the creatures.

I looked at Ellen. She was still wide-eyed, and kept her hands clamped onto my arm. She was one of the bravest people I knew. Maybe she just really hated bugs. After all that had happened to us in the last few hours, it was a wonder we weren’t all completely freaked out. I don’t think it hit me until then. I felt like I was watching a movie of myself.

The transport docked with a spherical building as big as a large house. The giant bugs ushered us in.

This is your embassy, Ambassador. It can be configured as you require. The Prefect gives assurance all reasonable security precautions have been made, but you may take more as you choose. These devices will activate the environmental systems as you move through the enclave.” The creature held four metallic discs, half the size of a CD, hanging from lanyards. I took the devices and handed them out to Ellen and James.

Thanks,” I said.

The Concordance welcomes prospective member states. Communicate any requirements you have to the Prefect’s office.”

The two giant bugs left.

You all understand, of course, Ambassador, they are listening and watching us,” said Kritar.

I nodded.

I don’t like this place. I want to go home,” Ellen said, not at all happy.


When do we eat?” James asked.

Find the phone and call Dominoes. I like pepperoni and mushrooms.”

James snorted and rolled his eyes.

I don’t understand,” said Ellen, “what’s going on?”

They have never seen your species before,” said Kritar. “They simply assume you are an ambassador from a distant planet sent to negotiate for membership in the Concordance.”

But we’re just kids,” said James.

Ixnay on the idskay!” I hissed. “If they’re listening, we need to make it hard for them to understand. Speak Spenglish or slang. Use cultural references, i.e. ‘Domino’s’.”

Ellen and I spoke fairly good Spanish. Blending it with English and slang should keep whoever might be listening guessing as much as possible, I hoped. The aliens thought we were the ambassador and staff from some other species, seeking to join their interstellar version of the UN. Our lives, and maybe those of everyone on Earth, might depend on us keeping them thinking that.

Let’s get the 411 on this place,” I said.


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Oct 7 interview James DiBenedetto

Tell us something about yourselfEbookDreamStudentCoverSmaller

I’m a full-blooded Italian (3 of my 4 grandparents were born in Italy), born and raised in New York, and I’ve been living in the Washington, DC area for the last 18 years. I share my home with my amazing wife Cathey, and our cat Daisy, who basically runs everything.

You’re the author of the Dream series. Can you tell us something about the books?

What if you could see everyone else’s dreams? That’s what the books are all about. They revolve around Sara, who’s in college when we first meet her, and she doesn’t think there’s anything out of the ordinary about herself. And then the dreams start.

In each book, she’s faced with a challenge that comes to her from the dreams she’s visiting (in one book, it’s the fact that everyone’s dreaming about the death of one of her med school teachers, and then the man begins to show signs of being poisoned, for example); and also a problem that arises from her everyday life (adjusting to life as a newlywed, or later in the series coping with the difficulties of being a parent).

I notice that you have a co-author on some of the earlier novels in the series, but you are the sole author of the latest one. Can you tell us a bit about why you started working with a co-author, and why you stopped?

Ami Low wasn’t a co-author, but an artist, who hand-painted the original covers for the first few books. She did an amazing job, capturing for each cover a scene from the book at my direction (and she deserves a medal for deciphering the embarrassingly bad sketches I gave her to work from!), but, unfortunately, those covers were not what readers expected, and I had to change them.

How did you come up with the premise for the series, that your main character can inhabit the dreams of others?

It came from wondering why characters in mystery books and movies never seem to go to the police, when that’s what most of us would do if we had evidence about a murder or other serious crime.

I came up with the answer: what if the only evidence you had was in your own head, because you’d seen it in the thoughts and dreams of the criminal? You’d have nothing to give the police, and nothing they would believe, so if you wanted to do something about it, you’d have to investigate for yourself.

The character of Sara and the college setting came straight out of that initial idea.

How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since at least junior high school, but I mostly never finished anything. After college, I completed the first draft of what later became DREAM STUDENT, but I wasn’t pleased with how it came out, and it sat on my computer for more than a decade. A couple of years ago, a friend published her first novel, and I thought, “why can’t I do it, too?” So I dusted off that old draft, rewrote it from the beginning, and now I’ve got eight books in the series.

I notice you’re originally from Yonkers and now live in Virginia. Do you miss New York, or do you prefer where you’re living now?

I definitely miss New York. But I don’t think I’d want to live now where I grew up. It’s not terrible, but the neighborhood has gone downhill somewhat in the last 20 years.

Do you ever use people you know in your novels?

Yes. Only minor characters, though. They’re really more “background extras” for the most part. All the major characters who actually drive the story are completely fictional.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

Not really. It’s just “whenever I can carve out 15 or 20 minutes (or more) at a stretch”.

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

Totally a pantser. I do usually have a general sense of the ending in mind, but that’s it. I just start writing and see where things go.

What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

Best? “Write another book.”

Worst? “It’s just a hobby. If it’s not working out, find something else.”

Who are your favorite fantasy/paranormal authors?

Fran Veal (author of “Finding My Escape”).

Katherine Kurtz (although I haven’t liked the later Deryni books nearly as much as the early ones)

Stephen R. Donaldson

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope they’ll come away having enjoyed the story, and wanting to keep in touch with Sara and the rest of the cast of characters.

As far as any message or moral, it’s basically: responsibility. Be responsible for yourself, and the problems you see that you can solve. Take responsibility for the power you have and don’t abuse it.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished the next book in the series (book #8, DREAM VACATION). I’ve started on the ninth book, as well as another unrelated novel.

Any last words?

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Where can readers find you on the web?



J.J. (James) Dibenedetto’s fans would swear he’s got a sixth sense when it comes to seeing into the minds of others and often wonder if his stories could possibly be fiction. He enjoys suspending disbelief with suspenseful paranormal tales that are a perfect blend of reality meets fantasy.

His popular Dream Series continues to delight readers with each and every exciting installment.

Born in Yonkers, New York, he currently resides in Arlington Virginia with his beautiful wife and a cat he is sure has taken full advantage of its nine lives. When it comes to the cat, he often wonders, but then again it might just be his imagination.


Blurb for Dream Student (book one, free on Kindle)

College junior Sara Barnes thought her life was totally under control. All she had to worry about was her final exams, Christmas shopping, applying to medical school – and what to do about the cute freshman in the next dorm with a crush on her. Everything was going according to plan, until the night she started seeing other people’s dreams. 

It’s bad enough that Sara is learning more than she ever needed to know about her friends and classmates, watching their most secret fantasies whether she wants to or not. Much worse are the other dreams, the ones she sees nearly every night, featuring a strange, terrifying man who commits unspeakable crimes. Now Sara wonders if she’s the only witness to a serial killer – and the only one who knows when and where he’s going to strike next. 

Dream Student is the first book of the Dream Series. 




I have to admit, it feels very strange to be drinking wine, like an actual adult, with my parents. When I’m at school, obviously, I don’t have these thoughts. I’m twenty one years old. I’m in charge of my life, making real, important choices. I’m working hard, making serious progress on as adult a goal as I can think of. I’m in a real, serious relationship with a man I love. Then of course there are the damned nightmares, and the fact that I’m still even close to being in one piece after several weeks of them qualifies me as a functioning grown-up for sure.

Still, something happens to me when I come home from school, even now, even though rationally I should know better. It’s not that Mom and Dad do anything, really, to make me feel that way – it’s pretty much all in my head.

I realize that partly it’s just the fact of sleeping in the same bed I’ve slept in since I was in kindergarten, and looking at the picture of Kermit the Frog that’s been on my wall since 1977 or so as I fall asleep. Everywhere I look in my bedroom there’s a reminder of my childhood. Especially the poor ratty, dog-chewed stuffed rabbit that’s sitting on my bed right now. Good old Mister Pennington.

But right now, my father is looking at me very differently. He’s been ever since lunch and I just now realized that’s why. I guess he was right, when he said I’m slow on the uptake. What it is, is he’s seeing me as really and truly an adult for the first time. Well, if he thinks I am, I certainly ought to be able to believe it myself.

I get more proof when we get home. Mom and Dad don’t know it, but I learned years ago, when the conditions are just right and the heating vents in their room and my room are both open but the heat isn’t actually blowing in either room, I can hear them quite clearly.

What I hear tonight, as they’re getting ready for bed, is Dad telling Mom about his day with me. Then he tells her that he’s thinking about putting off the big kitchen renovation they’ve been planning for the last year. He wants to save the money for something much more important that he thinks might be coming a lot sooner than he expected.

My wedding.

I don’t know what to say to that.

I’m willing to bet that Mom and I have exactly the same expression on our faces right now, and that we both just went precisely the same shade of white. I don’t know how I keep from fainting at the shock of hearing those words.

There’s only one reasonable thing to do then. I jump out of bed and over to the thermostat, crank the heat as high as it will go and with the blast of hot air out of the vent, the voices of my parents are gone. I lay back down on my bed, grab Mister Pennington to me in a death grip, and try to put my father’s crazy words out of my mind and fall asleep.




Two hours later I’m still clutching Mister Pennington, and Lumpy is snoring at the foot of the bed. I’m finally just now drifting off to sleep. The last thing that goes through my mind before I’m out is that, maybe, my father’s crazy words might not be quite so crazy after all.

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