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Interview with Mary Jensen, author of Chiaroscuro


Mary headshot

You are the author of a new book of poetry, Chiaroscuro. Can you tell us a little about the book?Chiaroscuropromo

Chiaroscuro is a poetry book about the contrast and balance between light and dark. Poems range from internal conflict to worldwide war to creatures of myth, but all follow the themes of finding havens of light in dark days, persisting despite the odds.

What was your experience of putting the collection together? How difficult/not did you find the organizing?

The collection slowly came together over eight years. Back in 2008, I took a course at the Muse Online Writers Conference called “How to Turn Your Poetry Into a Saleable Chapbook.” I had a lot of poems in my portfolio and wanted to create a cohesive collection.

I looked over my poems, and sorted them into themes. I found a lot of them were on the darker side: death, pain, abuse. It hadn’t really dawned on me until then how much I use poetry to deal with the darkness.

With encouragement, I went ahead with the dark theme. Chose my title, Chiaroscuro. My initial tag line was: Exploring the darkness, bringing the monsters of death and abuse into the light.

That first time, I printed off all the poems that matched that theme. I sat on the floor and shifted poems around until it felt right. Wasn’t much reasoning for any of it other than gut.

The process became much easier once I got Scrivener. In that program, you can drag individual items in the sidebar to reorder them, and view them as individual items or as the whole collection. I also tagged everything with more specific themes – fantasy, war, relationships, doubt, death. With that visual I was able to first group by theme, then shift them around to best tell a story.

The collection starts out darker, with a world falling apart. Then slowly becomes more focused – nature, people, self. As we approach the end, it shifts more into the light. One poem that never changed location in all my revisions was the end poem: “Ash and Water.” That last line, “And I turn from death to embrace life” really summarizes the entire book.

Are any of the poems written specifically for the book?

What was initially planned as a 25 poem chapbook, later expanded to a book length collection to enter into a local writing competition. Most of the additional poems were older ones which I revisited and revised, but I did write new ones with the theme in mind. Most notably: “Dark Days,” “Danse Macabre,” and “Ghost of Childhood”.

How did you decide which poems to include and which ones to leave out?

These are themes I find myself revisiting often in my poetry, so I didn’t have to search hard to find enough to fill a book. There were a few poems that I wrote later and added to fill it out more.

I chose most of my poems for their ability to tell a story. Those felt like they had more impact than ones that simply asked questions or explored a topic.

Another big help was my poetry group, The Poetic Muselings. They helped me identify my stronger poems.

What’s your favorite poem from the book? Would you mind sharing it with us?

Ooh, this is a tough question. Three really come to mind for different reasons.

“The Sun Sets” is really the center of the collection. It’s one I wrote back in high school, the oldest of my poems to make it in the book.

“Concrete Forest” is more a mixture of the dark theme and the other topic I write a lot about: fantasy. It’s about a fairy in today’s modern world.

The third poem is much shorter than both of those, and is the one I will share with you. I love the sound of this one, and never tire of reading it aloud.

The Ocean

Beauty in endless motion,
the ocean,
she takes as oft as she gives.
A cherished ship meets its doom
in her womb,
and still, the sailors forgive.

You did a lot of research before you decided where to submit your collection. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I did searches on Duotrope and Writers Digest, making a list of all the poetry book publishers I could find. I made a chart in Excel and went through each website to get stats on book length, theme preferences, payment, format. I made a list of what I most wanted in a publisher:

clear information

print options

listed response time

ease of submitting (email)

I know self-publishing is an option, especially for poetry, but I’d prefer to go through a publisher for the formatting, marketing, cover book, all those things that intimidate me. It’s a process I’d rather not go through alone.

SynergEbooks was one of my top choices, but their submissions were closed when I began submitting. When their submission window opened again, I still hadn’t gotten a publisher so I sent them my query and sample poems, and they loved it. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to aim for your top picks. You can’t hit a target you don’t shoot for.

You write fantasy as well as poetry. Do you have a preference?

They satisfy me in different ways. A great thing about poetry is that I can write one in a single day. The feeling of finishing a project is very gratifying. Poetry also focuses more on the moment, and allows me to play with language. Fantasy delights me in other ways: I can create new worlds, explore magic systems, and really delve into a story in a way that poetry cannot.

How do you balance your writing time between fiction and poetry?

Sometimes I try to keep them in two separate boxes, a poet in one moment and a fiction writer in another. But they are both a part of me, and they definitely bleed into each other. I’ve written poems and songs for my novels, and I tell a lot of stories with my poetry.

That being said, most of the year I’m more a fiction writer than a poet. Poetry tends to come in waves. I can go a year without writing a poem, and then write forty in one month. It’s much more reliant on inspiration than my fiction.
You have a young son. How do you find the time to write?

Since I don’t have a day job, I try to get my writing done while my son is in school. Summer has always been a challenge. This year, I’ve scheduled an hour every day that is “alone time”.  He also earns two hours of solo video game time each day. That gives me three hours that I can use for myself – either recharging or writing.
What are you working on now?

I have a hard time focusing on just one project. I actually have five novels in progress. The two I’m (mostly) focusing on are:

The Minotaur Staff:  A (mostly) modern supernatural adventure, with time travel. A treasure hunter finds an artifact that summons a gladiator from ancient Atlantis.

Race to 100 Deaths: Traditional fantasy. Three elven diplomats are captured by a human baron that wants war. He forces them into a contest – a race to 100 deaths.

Where can readers find your book?

You can order Chiaroscuro directly off of ( It is also available for Kindle and Nook.

Where can readers find you on the web?






Group blog:


Any last words?

We are all unique. We each have a story to tell: through our blogs, poetry, fiction, film, art, or other mediums. We can all contribute to the world. When we stop contributing, we do the world a disservice.

I’d love to hear from you. I’m giving away a free PDF version of Chiaroscuro to one of the commenters, so don’t be shy.

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Emotionally Charged


bannerfans_962234brokenbonds_200X300(1)Warning: spoiler. This is a key scene from Broken Bonds, the one in which Brad, who has never even kissed a woman, realizes he’s fallen for Nidrani, who will make up the fourth in the soon-to-be rolor bond between Brad, Ardaval, Imarin, and Nidrani.

I sent Brad and Nidrani up to the roof while Ardaval and Imarin tried to work out their differences. I wanted the four of them to end up together, and for that to work, the pairing between Brad and Nidrani had to be viable. On a conscious level, I had no idea how this would come about. I sent them up and started writing. Wow. I was at least as shocked as Brad. We were both pretty shaken up by the time I reached the end of the scene.

Looking back at the novel, however, it was clear that Brad was falling for her, and Imarin points out a short while later.

I admit that I also had no idea how I’d get Brad acquitted of treason, another goal of mine in terms of how the novel would come out. That was another where I started writing and discovered the answer.

But that’s an excerpt for another time.



Nervous energy coursed through Brad as he followed Nidrani through the door onto the roof. “Are you sure this will work?”

    “Imarin believes he can convince Ardaval to listen this time.” Nidrani pushed the roof door shut.

    “The last time they made up, it was for one night only.”

    “They didn’t make up, they simply ignored their differences.” Nidrani blew air through her pursed lips.

“I hope this time they settle things between them.” Brad walked to the edge of the roof and gazed over the city. The ever-cool, and always-damp wind blew and clouds drifted over his head. “What are we going to do while we wait?”

    “We’ll watch the sky. Perhaps the sun will appear.” Nidrani held out a hand to him.

    He glanced up at the gray sky. The prospect of sunlight appeared dim. “We can watch clouds gather and light fade.” He gazed at the woman beside him. He’d avoided thinking what swearing rolor would mean with between Nidrani and him. He hadn’t considered his feelings for her at all, the spirits knew why. They went a hell of a lot deeper than friendship. He shook his head, and, giving in to the impulse, drew Nidrani into his arms for a kiss.

She sighed and opened her mouth to him. Her whole body, soft and warm, pulsed, trembled with desire. Her lips tasted of the berries she had eaten a short while ago. He didn’t want to let them go.

    “You’re a handsome man,” Nidrani murmured.

    Brad shook his head, too disturbed by the kiss and his reaction to it to speak.

    “Why is it so difficult to believe I could desire you?”

    He wanted to touch her. As he brushed a hand over her breasts, the nipples came to taut peaks, visible under her tunic. “I realize you do, and yet…”

    “You may have never desired a woman – until now “

    He nodded. Useless to deny it. The truth pulsed against her.

    “Does not mean none have desired you.”

    The hand she’d slipped under his shirt curved over his shoulders and moved down his back. When it reached at the sensitive spot near his right shoulder blade, he shuddered and pulled her closer. His hands shook as he slipped them under Nidrani’s tunic and ran a thumb over her erect nipples. She sighed into his mouth. His hands slipped lower, pushed down Nidrani’s skirt and undergarment, caressed her buttocks, pressed her against his erection.

Her whole body trembled, shook like a leaf blown by a strong wind. She wrapped her arms around him. He trembled also. He’d never reacted like this to a woman before. Perhaps because of the bond with Arda, which he sensed still existed, or perhaps because she was Aleyni and she didn’t map into his mental notion of woman the way a Terran would have.

    “Don’t analyze so much,” Nidrani murmured. “Accept the truth of your body.”

    He could do nothing else. Nidrani pulled off the last of his clothing, drew him with her down to the surface of the roof. He should have brought a cushion. He stared down into Nidrani’s face. Did he dare make love to her?

Nidrani opened her arms.”Yes. Oh, yes.”

He hesitated a moment longer, and Nidrani reached for him, drew him inside her, moaned. He thrust into her as she exploded into climax; her internal muscles tightened around him, and with a final thrust, he shattered into a million pieces, exploded inside her as she tightened again and again around him

    “I feel like I’m a teenager again.” He stared into Nidrani’s face.

    “We’ll take things more slowly next time,” Nidani murmured.

Reluctantly he stood, loathe to have this moment end. He extended a hand to Nidrani, and together they walked down the stairs to join the other two.


Check what the others chose:
Heidi M.
Beverley Bateman at
Kay Sisk
Anne Stenhouse at
Connie Vines at
Ginger Simpson at
Geeta Kakade at
Fiona McGier at
Lynn Crain at
Rhobin Courtright at

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Meet Heather Greenis, author of the Natasha Saga


Thanks so much for hosting me.  Heather

Margaret blog

 The fourth book in the Natasha Saga has just come out. Can you tell us a little about this saga?

The saga begins with a young woman from upper class. Her life changes once she volunteers at an orphanage. Unfortunately, there are consequences when she rebels.


What started you writing these books?

I had a dream and it stuck in my brain. I couldn’t get the characters out of my mind. I told my husband about the dream and he suggested I write about it. Allow my imagination to go for it and develop it. A four book saga later…


Of the four Natasha books, which is your favorite and why?

Oh, tough one. The Saga is actually one big book that is broken into four sections. That’s like asking someone which part of a book is their favourite, The beginning, the middle or the conclusion. The first book is an emotional read, the second you get deeper insight into characters. The third offers further development. Each book is a generation. The fourth ties it all together, answering questions, concluding it. People reading the story love the way I tied it together.


Are you planning any more books in this saga?

Nope. Not in the plans. Never say never, but at this point, I don’t see a need. My editors loved the way I ended it. So do a few people that have contacted me. I’m happy with it.


Do readers have to have read the three previous books to enjoy this one?

Each books starts with a small recap, but to understand the plot, the characters, and the moral, it’s advisable.


What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I simply hope they stop and think. Question the purpose of life. We’re given a short time on this planet, what do you want to be remembered for? The answer to that is personal and changes for everyone. I’d like to think I’ve accomplished something meaningful when I die. That I have made the world a slightly better place. I’ve left a small footprint.


What are your strengths as a writer?

Ask me again in a few years! I’ve learned so much in the past two years thanks to my editors Nancy Bell, Teale Dallas, Sharon Pickrel and Greta Gunselman. I’ve grown and matured as an author. Hopefully, my growth will continue.

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

‘Make sure the end product is something you’re happy with.’

‘Don’t give up your day job. Not right away’

Completely agree with these.

Worst – give yourself a schedule and abide by it.

Disagree – Writing isn’t a 9 – 5 job. Don’t tell me to write if I’m not in the mood. There are 7 days in a week and a 24 hour clock. I write when I’m inspired.


Do you belong to any critique groups?

No.  My husband is an avid reader of almost any genre.  He is the first to read my  manuscripts and the poor guy ends up reading them multiple times before I submit. He corrects small errors, points out major errors and makes suggestions. He was afraid to be critical at the beginning, but now he’s tough which is great. I’m fortunate.

My niece is also an avid reader. She read the saga years ago and critiqued it. I looked at her notes and rewrote, making major changes. She is the reason my story got published.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I begin plotting but am willing to change anything and everything.

I’ll write a scene, give it some thought and rewrite it, more then once. The plot went through some major changes.


What are you working on now?

I have a few stories in my brain.  One is well underway but going through hubby edits. The second is well underway, but hasn’t been seen my any other eyes yet. Who knows how it will end up. The remainder are still bullet points. I’m not rushing any of them. When I have an idea, I open the file and jot some ideas down.


Any last words?

Once again, thanks so much for hosting me. I’m honoured to be on your blog.

I began this process, submitting to publishers in March 2012. June 2014 the last of the saga has launched. Woohoo!

For blurbs, please see my page on my publishers site and click ‘read more’
links to purchase can be found on my website

Natashas Hope 333x500Natashas Legacy 333x500natashasdiary333x500natashasdream333x500-4

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Meet Christopher Mannino


I read you teach theater arts. How did you get involved in this?Headshot1

I have been involved with theatre since I was 10.  I have been an actor, designer, director, playwright, and now teacher.  I initially went into theatre education because it was a stable way to make a career in theatre, without having to live audition to audition.  However, once I started working with teenagers, I found that I truly enjoyed inspiring young minds.  When I was in high school, all of my greatest memories were on stage.  It is one of my biggest joys to be able to share that passion with new generations.  Theatre teaches more than just acting, it teaches teamwork, leadership, communication, and public speaking.  Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I loved theater as a kid. What kinds of plays do you put on with your students?

The school where I teach, and only started teaching at last year, has an enormous theatre program, one of the largest in the Washington DC area.  Every year, we present a Broadway musical, a play with the advanced acting group, a student-directed play, a One Act Festival, and a series of short sketch-comedy style student-written skits, which are performed at a large performance nicknamed “Pancakes”.  There is also a student improvisation team, which performs four times a year.  Next year, the advanced play will be different, as I plan to develop an original ensemble-based play with the class.  We will adapt a story, and create the play together.

Do you have to use abridged versions? I always hated those as a kid.

We use full versions of all plays and musicals.

Your book is coming out soon. What inspired you to write it? It’s an unusual CoverSchoolofDeathssubject.

The idea for School of Deaths emerged when I was finishing my graduate degree at Oxford University.  I spent four months abroad, far from everyone I knew.  Every week, I traveled somewhere I had never been before.  I would climb castle ruins in Wales and visit cathedrals in England.  One of my favorite trips was to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.  I crept to the cliff face of Barras Nose, a stony peninsula jutting into the North Sea and overlooking the ruins of Tintagel, which some believe to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  It was dawn, there were no other people in sight, and I had to struggle against the wind, fighting to keep my balance so I didn’t crash into the ocean.  I imagined being buffeted by winds, alone, and what that would do to a character, and came up with the character of Suzie, alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

Returning to Oxford, I envisioned Suzie alone in a strange school.  The idea of a school of trained Reapers appealed to me, giving a fantasy edge to her story.  In an early draft, the school of deaths resembled Oxford.  However a beta reader told me, very correctly, that Oxford was the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  I eventually changed the setting drastically to avoid that parallel.

Is this your first novel?

Technically, no.  It’s my first published novel, however it is the second novel I’ve written.  The first is currently shelved, although I may re-visit it at some point.  I have also written a play, which was performed at a high school in 2012 (not the high school I teach at now).

Who are your favorite authors?

Tolkien, Rowling, and Philip Pullman

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

An author I met told me this: “What do you call a writer who never gives up?  Answer: Published.”  I’ve never forgotten that, and have never given up.

The worst writing advice I received was from my parents.  When they heard me say I wanted to write they suggested I copy someone else’s book, or just write fanfic.  I decided to do neither.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is a sequel to School of Deaths called Sword of Deaths.  While I did write School of Deaths as a standalone novel, I knew Suzie’s story was not finished, and I had always intended to turn it into a series.  Other projects in the work include an adult science-fiction novel and a historical fiction novel set during the American Revolutionary War.

 What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?

The best part of writing is drafting at the beginning, a phase that is pure creation.  My least favorite part was trying to find a publisher, and now marketing.  Editing was difficult but it did help the story, and overall wasn’t that bad.

Are you a plotter? A pantser? Somewhere in between?

I am definitely in between.  I need to have an idea of where I’m going, and I sketch out with pencil and paper where I want my story to take me.  I outline roughly at the beginning, but once I have a general idea, I let the story run its own course.

What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

My greatest strength is my vivid imagination, and ability to bring new worlds to life.  The combination of vivid world building with strong characters helps my stories.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

With determination, anyone can overcome adversity.  Suzie feels that she is alone, and she is bullied, yet turns her differences into her greatest strength.

Any advice to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, no matter what you do.  Perseverance and patience will pay off in the end.

Any last words?

If you enjoy the book, please visit my website for extras including a free prequel.


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The Little People Did It

ring finger

ring finger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a ring given to me by my spouse when we were first together. In general, it never leaves my finger, which is why I was surprised and distressed to discover it missing some months ago. It vanished overnight. I went to bed with it on, and woke up to find it missing. Did I remove it somehow in my sleep? I don’t know.

I searched everywhere for it, but, alas, it was gone.

A couple of days ago I returned to my room to discover the ring, lying in a pool of cracker crumbs, in the middle of my bed. Again, it wasn’t there when I left, but when I returned, there it was.

It’s back on my finger. I have no explanation for how it got onto my bed — other than:

yes, the Little People must have returned my ring.

I’m thrilled to have it back.

Where I was this past week:

On the 4RV blog, blogging about How do you know you’re done with your draft?

On Jean Drew’s blog with an interview

On the Poetic Muselings blog, blogging about What we write about

On Exquisite Quills, posting a couple of excerpts, one setting the scene and another about that first kiss


  • What we write about
  • Poetry
  • The intricate art of Paper Quilling
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Mont Blanc

The west face of Mont Blanc, the tallest mount...

The west face of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the French Alps, from Passy, Haute-Savoie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my novel, Relocated, my main character speaks fluent Aleyni, but discovers there are a some things he didn’t learn, like expletives.

Face it, they don’t usually teach you how to swear in French class. Nor do they tell you that the euphemism for bathroom is petit coin, or that sortir means to sleep with someone.

They also don’t tell you about regional differences in pronunciation, or about the many differences between Canadian, Belgian, and French.

Which brings me to the following story. My sister, a friend, and I spent a summer in Europe when we were in college. Our friend was semi-engaged to a young man, a Frenchman with a Swiss father. They owned a dental supply business.

So, one day, when L’s boyfriend had a delivery to make, we all piled in Y’s truck and headed for the hills.  We reached the village with no difficulty, but Y. couldn’t find the dentist’s office, so we stopped a passer-by if he knew where Moblanc (dentist’s name) was.

Apologies for my lack of accent marks on this keyboard, and my free translation of Y’s words:

Y: “Est-ce que vous savez, ou est Moblanc?”  (Can you tell me where Moblanc is?)

Passer-by: “La-bas.” (points to near-by French alps). (Over there.

Y: (realizing the problem – local pronunciation of the famous Mont Blanc ): Non, Moblanc, le dentiste. (No, Moblanc, the dentist)

So we made the delivery and then stopped for a pizza. Pizza is very popular in France, and was even then. French pizza, however, does not by default come with cheese.

Another one of those little cultural differences just waiting to trip up the unwary tourist.


  • Memories of Paris
  • Learning French like a Parrot can seriously slow you down
  • Speaking French
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Meet Author J.Q. Rose



Hi Readers. Glad you’re here. I appreciate you taking your time to stop in to visit. Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the random drawing for prizes at the conclusion of the tour on March 21.–$10.00 MuseItUp Publishing gift certificate and free e-books.Coda To Murder 333x500(1)

It’s an old cliché that it “takes a village”. With this book it took a city,
Fellow authors in my Koffee Kuppe Writers Critique Group and writers in the Fremont Area District Library Writers Group helped to find inconsistencies in the action and timeline, typos, and keeping the character “in character.” But they weren’t all that picky all that time. These writers were great at brainstorming ideas for the story line and a source of encouragement and support as well as just a joy to share this time together. If you’re a writer, please don’t be shy about sharing your story with other writers in order to get some input and fresh eyes on your story.

My main character, Pastor Christine, found herself in situations not usually covered in seminary such as her church’s music director murdered in the church basement. I turned to my favorite pastor and friend, Pastor Ed, for advice and direction on how one would look at the circumstances from a pastor’s point of view.  His help in looking at all the relationships involving the pastor and church staff and the congregation and community helped me to round out the details.

Officer Doug was helpful in explaining police procedure in a small town police force. I didn’t know police throw a phone through a window to communicate with a hostage taker and not have to use a megaphone!

We are all familiar with the acronym for SWAT team…. SWAT, Special Weapons and Tactics. Doug’s explanation for SWAT is to Sit, Wait, and Talk in order to resolve a hostage situation. The example of that definition was clearly demonstrated in the latest kidnapping of the little boy from a school bus. The police wanted to wait for a peaceful ending to the incident, but in that situation it was impossible.

I listened and interpreted what the writers and the professionals told me, but if there are any errors or misinformation in the story, it is entirely my doing!

Cyber hugs and kisses are speeding through cyberspace to Lea Schizas, MuseItUp Publisher, and editors Kim Cresswell and Penny Ehrenkranz for their help in shepherding the raw manuscript into a finished e-book. I am proud to be a part of MIU knowing how important it is to the staff to offer the best book possible to their readers.

Also a huge thank you goes to my cover designer, C.K. Volnek for a spectacular, eye-catching cover that will attract readers’ attention. She took a spark of an idea from me and turned it into a lovely, emotional piece of art.

I can’t forget to thank all the authors at MuseItUp for their support and encouragement. Many authors who will be hosting me on the Coda to Murder virtual book tour are Muse authors. I am overwhelmed at how close people can become over cyberspace, never meeting face to face. I cherish these friendships.

My name appears as author on the book, but I have had a team who helped me to put it altogether. My thanks to all of you.

# # # #

TAGLINE: Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

BLURB:  Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Detective Cole Stephens doesn’t want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?


Now available at MuseItUp Publishing- and major online booksellers.

BIO–After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. Her latest mystery, Coda to Murder, was released in February. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog
Girls Succeed blog
Author website
J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page

  • Self-publishing on Smashwords
  • The Million Dollar Writing Question
  • So, How Much Writing Does An Author Have To Do Before They’re “Good”?
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Sand in the Desert gets Five out of Five review, Relocated holiday special


Check out this great review:

And also the review of Relocated:

Holiday special: Relocated 40% off:


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Guest post by Paty Jager: Letters from Maya


Letters From the Maya

Margaret, Thank you for having me here today!

This post is part of a two week blog tour. I will be giving away a $5 egift card to a commenter at each blog stop and will give a bag full of goodies to the person who follows me to the most blogs and a gift to the host who gets the most commenters. You can find the blog tour hosts at my blog: or my website:

The Maya were a people with as great a civilization as Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China. They started as villagers, learned to be agriculturists, and eventually became a great civilization. What helped propel them to this greatness was the ability to record their history and decipher the world and heavens around them.

They believed highly in the past and religion. These were depicted in their writings both on stone and on tablets. All great events in the lives of their rulers were recorded on public monuments. Almost like the insatiable voyeurism of today where we flock to read papers about entertainers and high profile people, the Maya seemed just as interested in rulers’ wives and courtiers.

This interest and skilled craftsmen are the reason we now know so much about the Maya people. Since uncovering the temples and shrines of the Maya, we have spent decades deciphering and understanding their symbols so the world can better understand them and learn of a past that they proudly displayed for all to see.

It is this fascination with the Maya hieroglyphs that I gave my heroine, Doctor Isabella Mumphrey in my book Secrets of a Mayan Moon.  Her insatiable desire to learn all she can about the people of North, Central, and South America and her near photographic memory makes her a specialist in the Maya symbols and statues. Making her the perfect patsy for two greedy men to prey on.


Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.



There they were. The symbols she’d tried to figure out the other day. They represented the name of a woman. She stared across the compound, unseeing. The woman who was sacrificed. Isabella’s stomach churned. The sacrifice of the virgin made the moon god cry. What about this particular woman left sorrow rather than hope? For the sacrifices were gifts to the gods to bring good weather and crops.

Sadness for this woman wrapped around her heart. Clutching the book to her chest, Isabella returned to her tent and lay down. She needed to sleep. That had to be why this information caused her so much grief. She was tired.

But sleep eluded her. Her mind spun with the drawings, the sadness, and restlessness. Finally, unable to shake the images and unease, Isabella rose, crossed the compound, and entered the dig site. Something compelled her to read the glyphs and look at the carvings in the altar chamber once more.

The workers glanced up as she entered. Virgil eyed her and then the book clutched in her arms.

“What are you doing?” he asked, stepping forward.

“I need to see the carvings on the wall in the other chamber.” Without missing a step, she continued into the chamber. Virgil’s footsteps echoed behind her. Isabella placed the book, open to the pages she had read, on the sacrificial altar. She stepped to her left and studied the drawings on the wall with more interest than on the day before.

The story made more sense after connecting the urn, the glyphs she didn’t know, and then this artwork. It played out in her head as if she stood watching the event.

“What are you finding?” Virgil stood next to her.

Her skin grew cold and her heart raced with fear. He means you harm. He brings evil. A voice in her head warned. The voice and her reactions to Virgil were illogical, but her intelligence knew there were some things that couldn’t be explained. Like her drive to learn all she could about the native people of the Americas.

The urgent voice felt more a friend than Virgil at this moment. She shook her head. “Nothing. I thought I’d found something that connected, made sense of the stone and glyphs. I-I was wrong.”

His eyebrows rose and he stared at her. Doubt shimmered in his eyes. He didn’t believe her. And why should he? She walked in here—the dampness of her clothes registered as her mind divorced itself from the story. She’d walked into the dig wet from rain pouring outside. Rain she hadn’t even noticed until now. She’d been in a trance, induced by her knowledge that the pieces put together would give her answers.

A worker stuck his head into the chamber. “Señor, we leave for dinner.”old chilled her back. Her mind numbed as fear and regret entered her chest.

What did it feel like to be placed upon this stone and know that you would never see another day or embrace love?

Virgil waved him away and took another step toward her. Instinct moved her feet back. His eyes widened then cloaked.

“Are you coming to dinner?” The tone wasn’t an invitation but more an accusation.

“No, I had a late lunch and want to remain here a while longer to see if I didn’t overlook something.” She didn’t really want to stay here alone, but she also didn’t want to be with Virgil. The whole trance-like episode, the voice, and her unease with a family friend left her unsure of anything at the moment. Least of all acting normal.

“If you tell me what you’re looking for, I could help. We are in this together.”

“That’s the crux. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.” She offered a weak smile. “I think?”

Virgil studied her a moment longer then pivoted on his heel and left the chamber.

His departure lessened the tension in her shoulders and lightened the air. She walked over to the altar and ran her hands over the polished stone. C

Secrets of a Mayan Moon is available at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords


Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance, Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered 1st place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest, and Spirit of the Lake, the second book of the spirit trilogy, was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog; her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.


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Flash Fiction Anthology, Possibilities, Goes Live!




Last February I participated in a seven week online event honoring the state of Black science fiction 2012. In my original post, which you can find here I complained about the disparity between the number of Black poetry anthologies (I searched on “African American Poetry Anthologies) versus the number of Black science fiction anthologies (I searched on “African American science fiction anthologies”). The number was  1244  to 144.

I searched again just now. The new numbers are {drum roll, please}:1391 to 168. We still have a lot of work to do.

And now for the good news. Possibilities, a state of Black SF Flash Fiction Anthology, is live!

State of Black SF authors have created a flash fiction anthology that opens imagination to the idea of what Black speculative fiction can become…  What’s the flash fiction prompt? A mystical bracelet. Specially created Black SF images along with the 500-word super short stories are morsels of raw potential.    Join artist Winston Blakely and authors LM Davis, Milton Davis, Margaret Fieland, Edward Austin Hall, Valjeanne Jeffers, Alan Jones, Alicia McCalla, Balogun Ojetade, Rasheedah Phillips, Wendy Raven McNair, and Nicole Sconiers as they endeavor to explore the possibilities of Black SF in the broad ranges of Science Fiction from Paranormal to Steampunk. Readers will see the immense possibilities of Black SF.
Here’s the link to download your FREE copy:
Please, if you enjoy our work, leave a review! And check out the other work by all of the artists in this fine anthology.

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog or her website

Milton Davis, Author– Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him:  and

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines is available from  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website,

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: and

Alicia McCalla, Author- writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012.  The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at:

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: or

Rasheedah Phillips,Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog,

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her:

Balogun is author of the steamfunk novel Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman and the fantasy novel Once Upon a Time in Afrika. He is screenwriter and director of the action film A Single Link and the steamfunk film Rite of Passage: Initiation. On his website,, he discusses steampunk and steamfunk.

Wendy Raven McNair is the author of Asleep, Awake, and Ascend (WIP), a young adult fantasy trilogy about teen super-beings. Her stories celebrate African American teen girls. McNair has a B.A. in English from the University of Texas and is certified in Graphic Design (
Edward Austin Hall writes journalism, poetry, and fiction. He serves as host of Eyedrum’s monthly literary forum, Writers Exchange, and as an organizer of Eyedrum’s annual eXperimental Writer Asylum (a part of the Decatur Book Festival). His writings about comics and comics creators have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. His forthcoming first novel is titledChimera Island. See more at

Alan Jones is a native Atlantan, a former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, and a Wall Street consultant. His brand of science fiction blends fanciful characters and scenarios with generous doses of philosophy and social commentary. His book, To Wrestle with Darkness, is available at most major retailers.

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