Archive for fiction

What do I write?


I’ve been tagged by Joan Curtis a fellow MuseItUp author to participate in a blog hop, What three things do you write about/don’t write about.

1. Poetry.

I started out writing poetry. I’ve been writing silly verses for holidays and birthdays since I was a teen ager, as well as the usual angst-ridden outpourings, and scribbling the resultant masterpieces into notebooks which I stuck in the attic and forgot about.  I love to write Relocated 500x750(2)rhyme as well as free verse. I find the restrictions often free me to become more creative rather than less so. I never had any intention of writing fiction.

2. Writing for kids

I’ve written two sci fi books for young adults published by MuseItUp, as well as a chapter book that’s due out later this year. I started writing fiction around 2005 or so when I joined a writing forum that required its members to write both fiction and poetry. I started writing for children under the mistaken impression it was easier than writing for adults.

It’s not. It is, or can be, shorter, which was what concerned me at the time. I got hook and I’m still writing.

3. Sci fi and fantasy

My love affair with sci fi and fantasy goes way back. I’m a huge fan of the Alice in Wonderland books as well as James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and I was already a die-hard Robert A. Heinlein fan when I choose the then-new Farmer in the Sky for my tenth birthday, now long past. Still, I only started writing my own in 2010 when I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month in order to overcome my phobia about world-building.

I wrote Relocated 

for 2010 Nano. You can read about my experiences here. Now I have three published sci fi novels and am finishing up a fourth.

What I don’t write

1. Horror

I am not a horror find. I find it, well, horrifying. I don’t enjoy reading it and I don’t want to write it. Not my thing. {shudder}.

2. Literary fiction

While I admire  writers of literary fiction, I lack the patience to both spend the effort reading it as well as writing it. I do love beautiful language, proper grammar, and elegant prose, but most literary fiction, for me, is too involved in admiring its polish and not enough in engaging the reader. Yes, I fail to appreciate most of it.

3.  Historical Fiction

I love reading historical fiction, but, sadly, I wasn’t paying attention in Social Studies and am in no way suited to write my own. It would require a huge investment of time spent in research, and, frankly, I’d rather spend my time writing.

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Not With a Whimper – an interview with Pam Kelt


  Dad_writing NWW_frontcover Your dad’s book, Not With a Whimper, is newly released on Amazon. Tell us a bit about your dad.

My father was born in Dumfries and went to study geography and anthropology at Edinburgh. Like young men in the 1950s, he had to do National Service, and ended up moving to England for work. His masters degree meant he could be employed as a teacher in England, not Scotland, so off we all went. He enjoyed most aspects of teaching, and had a marvellous rapport with some of the tougher cases that came his way. In his private life, he loved sport – golf and rugby – and was something of an armchair revolutionary. He was the most tolerant man, and modest to a fault, and loathed injustice and corruption. He also had the silliest sense of humour, which was totally infectious.

Your dad has passed on. What was it like for you, preparing the book for publication.

Hard! It took me months to open up the box of manuscripts when they arrived. He’d never DSCF0964-400let me read anything of his during his lifetime, so I had no idea what to expect. I read the first few paragraphs and was stunned. The style was so confident and professional. At first, the job was merely technical: I had to scan the typewritten pages and then correct them. After a while, the story and characters began to emerge, and I could recognise people and places – even myself! Subsequent editing was fine, but when it came to developing the website, it did get a bit emotional. My stepmother Maggie and I shed some tears, I have to admit.

Tell us a bit about the book.

It was written in the paranoid 1970s during the Cold War. It’s dad_head_and_shoulders_spaibased on a family trip to Spain. We stayed in a hotel in Andalusia not far from the American naval base at Rota. The place fired his imagination and the story is all set there. It’s full of the most fascinating characters, heroes and villains galore, with some wonderful cinematic scenes of suspense. With the tight dialogue and piercing insights, it would make a marvellous movie!



My own father was a terrible martinet when it came to English grammar — he never let anything slide. Most of what I remember about the subject is due to him, not to my teachers.  Did your own father have any influence on your writing, and if so, what?

Dad was brought up in the Scottish system, so his grasp of grammar and language was top notch. He also continued to read widely, from the essays of Montaigne to John Updike, so he was quite the gentleman of letters. Yes, I can still hear him correcting me if I ever said ‘me and my friend’ or whatever. In fact, I’d be corrected in stereo, for my mother was a journalist. There was no escape!

You have written several books of your own. What is your favorite among your own work, and why?

It has be Tomorrow’s Anecdote. This started out as a rant against the sleazy misogynism of 1980s journalism and turned into a semi-autobiographical murder mystery novel. It’s also written in my own conversational voice, because I was getting weary of agents and editors sneering at my choice of words or use of adverbs. One day I just rebelled and out it splurged. It was cathartic. I had to be careful about some of the characters, and although I did think about killing off a few more just for fun, I was restrained. It was also my first book to come out in print, and that’s always special.

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

I do like to plan the stories, and I certainly love the research. It’s sometimes hard to stop. What I do find hard is to have a regular schedule. I simply can’t sit down and be creative at set times. My brain just rebels.

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

Best advice – don’t give up! The worst? Pay lots of money for writing agencies to edit your books before submission. You could spend hundreds of pounds, disagree with what they’ve done – and still not get published.

What is your favorite book? Favorite author?

Although I love murder mysteries and medieval whodunits, the books I can’t put down are always teen fantasies. Just recently, I finished the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfield. It was fast, funny, action-packed and simply dazzling. I also loved the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Ridell, with those haunting illustrations. I felt bereft when I’d read the last one.

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

Although it’s a spy novel, it’s a very human story about a rather modest bloke struggling with an impossible situation. However, it’s not just the main character that is so compelling. My father studied psychology, and just seemed to know what would make every individual tick. In my view, it’s a fascinating study of flawed humanity – and a cracking plot!

Any last words?

Getting Not With A Whimper into print was quite an emotional journey. I’ve been particularly touched by everyone’s response. It’s a travesty it wasn’t published in his lifetime, but we got there in the end. Dad was always one for saying ‘don’t look back’, but I’m rather glad I did on this occasion.


Peter A. W. Kelt –

Pamela Kelt –

Video trailer -

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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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I’ll be touring


Here are the dates for my upcoming blog tour

October 29 Guest blog
Books in the Hall

October 30 Guest blog
Lisa’s World of Books

Forget About TV, Grab a Book

November 6 Interview
Michelle @ Mom With A Kindle

November 7 Interview
Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

November 9 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm

November 10 Interview and review
Always a Booklover –

November 12 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books


And in honor of my blog tour, you’ll be able to download the book of poems that goes with the book, Sand in the Desert, FREE on October 29, 30, and 31!

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Interview with Heather Haven


Heather Haven speaks out!


Tell us something about yourself

Born and raised in southern Florida when alligators roamed the streets, possibly even before the Mesozoic dinosaurs came into being. The first book I can remember reading was Uncle Remus. Maybe on a stone tablet, can’t remember. I do know that’s when I was six or seven. It’s been a love affair that has never waned. I went to college on a costume scholarship and studied drama. Ultimately, I went to NYC to become an actress, but I absolutely hated it. I hated the life of an actor. It wasn’t for me. All that traveling! Living out of a suitcase! Who needs it? However, I loved writing. I could sit in a room and write for hours, send characters to the far corners of the room and not have to leave my chair. To make money, I worked in advertising for a while, wrote short stories, one-act plays, and ad copy for humorous ads, and acts for performers. I didn’t tackle writing a book until I came to California.

How long have you been writing?

The first thing I did was write lyrics to music that didn’t have any. I was about eleven years old. I probably started seriously writing in my late twenties. I won’t say how many decades that is, but check with the question above for the time period.

How did you get your start?

Give a kid an education, encourage them to be themselves, to learn and grow and then stand back. That’s what did it for me.

What got you interested in writing mysteries?

At age nine, I was brought to the public library and encouraged to check out a book. I checked out Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. My life was changed forever. I not only fell in love with reading, big time, I fell in love with mysteries.

How do you feel your work in theater and television has influenced your writing?

You are a sum total of everything you do. Being in the theatre, studying the classics, performing the classics, that’s how you learn what has been created by the greats. Then you get to do your stuff, which is not so great. But those fine eternal masterpieces are something to strive for, to be devoutly wished for. You read their stories and some of the greatest artist struggled like nobody’s business to get where they did. Make no mistake, I don’t have that kind of talent, but I’ve worked hard, practiced hard, and not given up when it gets tough. Do what you love to the best of your ability.

What’s your writing style?

I have no idea. Funny? Let’s go for that.

Do you have a writing routine?

I do. I get up every morning and am writing by 8 am. I try to be done around 11 or noon.

Who are some of your favorite mystery writers? What do you like about them?

Women: Agatha Christie, the Grand Dame of them all. Dorothy Sayers, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovitch. Men: Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, Raymond chandler, Steig Larsson…wait, wait I have to stop. I’m starting to hyperventilate. I know I’ve forgotten some wonderful writers.

What are you working on now?

I am writing a new series called Persephone Cole and… (fill in the blank with whatever holiday it is). So far, I’ve got Persephone Cole and Halloween, Colder than a Witch’s Mitt and Persephone Cole and the Christmas Killings Conundrum. Both will be out soon.

The third book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series just came out. Can you tell us something about it?
Gladly!! They are such fun to write! I love this family, even the cat! Here’s the blurb:

Lee Alvarez’ ex-husband, Nick — a man she divorced with joy in her heart and a gun in her hand – sprints back in her life only to disappear again. She’d love to leave it at that, but could he be responsible for the recent death of her cousin, who keeled over at the finish line of a half-marathon in front of hundreds of spectators? As PI for the family run business, Discretionary Inquiries, Lee follows the clues to Vegas, where she joins forces with Shoshone PI, Flint Tall Trees. Together they uncover a multi-million dollar betting syndicate, a tacky lounge lizard act, and a list of past but very dead runners, plus future ones to off. At the top of the ‘future’ list is the love of her life, Gurn Hanson. Hoping to force the culprits out in the open, Gurn and Lee’s brother, Richard, vow to run San Francisco’s famous Palace to Palace footrace in only a few days. Can Lee keep the two men she loves from hitting the finish line as dead as her cousin? With more at stake than she ever dreamed possible, Lee is in a battle against time to stop the Alvarez Family’s 12K race with death.

Where can readers buy your book?
Buy page for Death Runs in the Family:

Where can readers find you on the web?

Heather’s blog at:

[email protected]

[email protected]

Any last words?

I love writing. It is such everlasting fun. And thanks for having me!!

Check out Heather’s new book, “Death in the Family”

Lee Alvarez’ ex-husband, Nick — a man she divorced with joy in her heart and a gun in her hand – sprints back in her life only to disappear again. She’d love to leave it at that, but could he be responsible for the recent death of her cousin, who keeled over at the finish line of a half-marathon in front of hundreds of spectators? As PI for the family run business, Discretionary Inquiries, Lee follows the clues to Vegas, where she joins forces with Shoshone PI, Flint Tall Trees. Together they uncover a multi-million dollar betting syndicate, a tacky lounge lizard act, and a list of past but very dead runners, plus future ones to off. At the top of the ‘future’ list is the love of her life, Gurn Hanson. Hoping to force the culprits out in the open, Gurn and Lee’s brother, Richard, vow to run San Francisco’s famous Palace to Palace footrace in only a few days. Can Lee keep the two men she loves from hitting the finish line as dead as her cousin? With more at stake than she ever dreamed possible, Lee is in a battle against time to stop the Alvarez Family’s 12K race with death.

And check out this excerpt

Chapter Seven

I Don’t Know Who’s the Bigger Idiot

Without much conversation, we jostled Nick out of the room and down the stairs. As a precaution, we used the back exit, Flint flinging boxes of DVDs every which way so fast, the clerk only managed one “hey” before we were out the door. The exit led to a narrow back alley filled with garbage, trash, and more small scurrying animals that should be calling the SPCA to complain about the conditions under which they’re forced to live.

While Flint went to bring the car to the side of the alley, I waited in the shadows next to Nick and pulled out the Glock. The irony of the situation hit me like a double charge on a credit card bill for shoes not only too tight to wear but last year’s style.

On the left, a disgusting dumpster; on the right, an even more disgusting ex-husband. And me stuck in the middle as usual—a reluctant PI if ever there was one.

Rather than inhaling the stench of fly-ridden garbage, I’d really rather be sniffing out dastardly doings of computer sabotage or thievery, in particular, long after said dastardly deeds have gone down. It’s my idea of a good job, especially when I get to zip off whenever I want and have a great lunch.

The part I like best—besides the food—is sitting at a highly polished, recently vacated mahogany desk in an air-conditioned office, sifting through the rubble of high-tech deceit and betrayal. I like gathering enough evidence to point a manicured fingernail at the culprit and shout j’accuse! Backlit by enough briefs, memos, emails, and other telltale papers, the culprit is mine. That is a real high.

This was a real low. But I had to think about Stephen. My cousin was dead, and Nick knew something about it. Hell, maybe he even had something to do with it. And, of course, there were the cats. If Nick was in any way responsible, I might do him in myself and save whatever goons there may be the trouble.

All these things were flitting through my mind when Nick—the stupid idiot—made a lunge for my gun, muttering he could take better care of himself than I could. Sometimes an ex-marine, like an ex-husband, needs to get over himself.

One of the first lessons you learn as a PI is to not to carry a gun if you’re going to let anybody take it away from you. All the years I’ve been carrying, ten to be exact, people have taken all sorts of things from me—including my virtue—but never my gun.

So when Nick came at me, my knee went up fast, strong, and accurate. Ex dropped to the ground in a fetal position. God only knows what else was lying there with him, but I left him on the dirt, anyway. He was busy moaning while I cocked the Glock and gave a 360-degree spin, prepared to do whatever was necessary to keep the jerk safe. At least, for the moment.

Fortunately, no one showed up except a passing rat or two, excluding the one I stood over. After what felt like a lifetime, I saw Flint’s headlights, although I’m sure it didn’t take him more than three minutes to get there. I helped Nick up. He limped to the car, and Flint, bless him, raised an eyebrow over Nick’s condition but didn’t say a word. What a guy.

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Interview with L.M. Davis. author of the Shifter series.


Tell us something about yourself
. What is there to tell…I am a mystery, wrapped in an enigma…or maybe I am just a gal that loves a good story, whether I am writing it or reading it.

How long have you wanted to be a writer? For me, it’s more of a question of when did I stop running from the fact that I was a writer. I am of the mind that a writer is not something you want to be, it’s something that you are. I have been writing all my life (I even chose a career where writing was central), but only recently did I embrace the fact that writing is my calling.

What prompted you to write the Shifter Series? I first started writing the Shifters Novel Series with my cousin in mind. He, along with many of his friends, loves to read fantasy, and I wanted to create a fantasy series where he and others like him could see reflections of themselves. I think that there is something affirming about that. Also, I write fantasy because I love to read fantasy. I cut my readerly teeth on tales about vampires, dragons, shapeshifters, tesseracts etc… Almost all of the fiction that I write has a fantasy component.

The second book in the series is about to come out. How much plotting of the entire series did you do in the beginning/have you done subsequently? Before I started, I had the major arcs of each novel and the major arc of the series. That was about as much as I planned in advance because you know what they say about the best laid plans… When I first started writing the series, I thought that it would be three books. But as I was writing the first book, I realized that it was going to be four books. The major story arcs are still the same, I just realized that it was going to take longer to tell the story.

“Interlopers,” the first book, deals with secrets and the parent’s desire to keep their children safe, a theme that resonates with me. Any particular reason you chose this theme? Well, I knew that I wanted to tell a story where families were important. In so much YA these days, the parents and the family are nonexistent, but that is not my experience. My family and extended family are so important to me, so I wanted to write a story that would honor that. Also, I wanted to tell a story that was about people (not just kids but adults too) who try their best but sometimes made mistakes–and who get back up and keep trying, even after they get knocked down. Finally, I think that the notion of secrets is something that everyone understands. There is always some part of ourselves and our stories that we hold back from the world and sometimes from the people that care about us, for whatever reason. I think that many readers will connect with that idea.

“Interlopers” is written from multiple points of view, including that of the parents, Why did you feel it was important to do this? I could not tell the story that I needed to tell in any other perspective. Though a first person perspective does lend a kind of urgency, immediacy, and strength of voice to the narrative, there are also certain limitations. To tell this story, I needed to be able to see things that no single character would be privy to. Furthermore, if I can be a little academic, though it is the twins coming of age story, all of the different perspectives, which make up the series, are also a part of the twins’ story. So it’s important for me to include those voices and those experiences.

I’m working on an adult sci fi novel now with four main characters and an antagonist, and I’m struggling with balancing them. How did you find this played out in “Interlopers?” In “Posers?” In Interlopers the villain remained somewhat abstract until the end, and that was purposeful. I think that whichever choice you make, you have to be deliberate. I wanted to use the first book of the series to introduce the twins and really create a sense of who they are as characters. In Posers, I really flesh out villains. We get to know James, Blanche, and Hawk much better and to understand their motivations and their choices more. I hope I have created villains who are complex and will turn my readers expectations on their ears. By the end of this book, we have the entire Shifters Novels pantheon completely fleshed out.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, and has this changed or not as you continue to work on your series? I guess I am about half and half. As I said, I already know the major arcs for the rest of the series, and I have a general sense on where each book begins and ends. That’s about all I carry in to the writing process, and even that is subject to change. As I write, part of the work is to figure out how to get from the beginning that I envision to the end. For me, things change so much as I write, that even if I outlined the story before hand, the final product would not look anything like that outline–so, at that point, outlining is almost an exercise in futility.

Do you have a writing routine? I am not one of those writers that writes everyday (at least not on the same project). Though I am always thinking about my stories, I will only sit down to write when I have a sense of where I am going. One thing that is a always a part of my routine is writing by hand. The first draft of every book, every story, every poem that I have ever produced was hand written. People find that strange, but for me, it is much easier to face and conquer a blank piece of paper than it is to begin with a blank screen.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst? One of the best pieces of advice that I know, which I kind of figured out for myself and then saw in a lot of different places, is to write the complete draft before revising. This is the TRUTH. If you start revising before you finish writing the first draft, you may never finish. Sure, you will end up with a really good introduction, but if that is all you have, what’s the point? So that is definitely advice that I write to live by. I can not think of any bad advice that I have received. There is so much good advice out there, that I really just try to focus on that.

I understand there will be two more books in the Shifters series. Any idea when we can expect them? The plan is to release Book 3 in 2013 and Book 4 in 2014.

I’ve been to my local Barnes and Noble many times, and I have yet to find a single Octavia Butler book in stock, and only one by Samuel Delany. What can we do to increase awareness of Black writer of speculative fiction, and any ideas for prodding bookstore owners to carry more of them? I am of two minds about this. First, I think that authors need to raise awareness about the long, rich tradition of Black speculative fiction. We are not newcomers to this genre, some of the earliest texts that I have found so far date back to the nineteenth century. Beyond that, African American folk and oral traditions are ripe with speculative elements (if you read Morrison, Naylor, Walker, Hurston, etc…you are reading fiction with speculative element). These kinds of narratives have always been a part of the way that we tell stories. So the first part is to really get black folks to reclaim this genre. To this end, I have actually started publishing a Black Sci-Fi Primer weekly on my blog. The second part is we really have to get past this idea that only black people want to read stories by Black authors. I think that this cycle of literary segregation is perpetuated by the both availability and location. People are not aware of the depth of Black speculative fiction because it is not stocked in stores and thus they are not exposed to the rich and vibrant tradition of speculative fiction. On the other hand, if people are not buying these books, store owners don’t stock them. It really is a pernicious cycle.

What do you hope readers take away from your books? First and foremost, I want them to take away a wonderful reading experience. Beyond that, I don’t really like to define my books for my readers. I like to let them bring their own experiences and ideas to the reading experience and I get a real kick out of talking to them afterwards and hearing about which parts and aspects of the story resonated most with them (like for you with the parents/secrets/safety theme). Sometimes, they mention things that I wasn’t even aware of, which tickles me.

Where can readers purchase your books, and where can they find you on the web? Both books are available on Amazon and Interlopers is available on Barnes and Noble (Posers, hopefully, will be available soon). Both are on sale until the 30th. Also, they can check out my website ( for excerpts from both.

Any last words? Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog!

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TRAVYON 17: A creative Science Fiction Response


A Black Teen, Alan, and a White Bigot, Arthur, arrived at the Pearly Gates.

“Why are you here?” the Gattekeeper asked Alan.

“I was guilty of wearing a hoody.”

“What’s a hoody?” asked the Gatekeeper.

“Man, where are you from?” Alan asked, showing him the hooded sweatshirt he wore.

“What a fine garment,” the Gatekeeper said. “In my day, you stayed cold and wet. Go on in.” And he waved Alan through the Pearly Gates.

“How about you?” the Gatekeeper asked Arthur.

“I died of a heart attack after shooting my assailant. The stress was too much for me,” Arthur said.

“Who attacked you?” the Gatekeeper asked.

“A Black teen. He wore a hoody, so in spite of his being unarmed, going about his lawful business, and not messing with me, I shot him dead.”

“I have a far warmer spot for you than this one, the Gatekeeper said, and he waved to two small demons lounging to the left of the gate. “Take him away.”

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The State of Black Speculative Fiction


I am excited to participate in a seven-week online event celebrating the State of Black Science Fiction 2012. Each participating writer will blog once a week on a common topic. Today’s is “The State of Black Science Fiction.”

There will also be giveaways. Our first giveaway will take place on Monday, February 6, 2012. Each time one of my blog readers leaves a comment here or on my Facebook page (my handle is madcapmaggie), they will be entered for a chance to win.

I will be giving away a signed copy of the Poetic Muselings anthology, Lifelines. The winner will be announced on February 6th. And you can go on over to another author’s blog for a chance to win there, too.

And now on to The State of Black Speculative Fiction

I have been reading science fiction for a long time. I’m 65 now, and I was already a fan when I selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for my tenth birthday. I read Samuel Delaney’s “Dhalgren” when it first came out. I’ve read reams of Octavia Butler and smaller amounts of Steven Barnes, Sheree Thomas, Walter Mosley and Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve sampled Charles Saunders and Tananarive Due. Still, in my opinion, we need more black writers, more readers, and better press.

My first love is poetry, and I’ve read a lot of poetry by black authors. I have a book of poetry by Rita Dove and another by Michael S. Harper on my nightstand. Gwendolyn Brooks is another favorite. A mention of Robert Hayden’s poem about Frederic Douglas made it into a poem of mine. Somewhere in my mess of books is an anthology. And I borrowed another from my local library. My local library is small and old. It’s so out of date that our town is building another.

Just for grins, I searched on Amazon for “African American poetry anthologies” (1244 results) versus “African American science fiction anthologies.” (174 results).

That’s sad. If any of my readers is interested in a list of Black poets, email me – or check one of the many anthologies out of the library and start reading. Your librarian can probably furnish you with a list of names with no difficulty.

If you’re interested in Black speculative fiction, you won’t be so lucky. Of the three librarian at my local library, only one, in her 20’s, had read any at all. The other two were both, I think, over 50, were at a loss. Neither was a fan of speculative fiction, much less heard of Black writers.

I didn’t fare much better at my local Barnes and Noble. There was indeed a novel by Walter Mosley on display, but it was one of his mysteries. The only Samuel Delaney they had was a single copy of Dhalgren, and they had nothing by Charles Saunders, Tananarive Due, or Steven Barnes. I would have found this much more frustrating if I hadn’t just borrowed several novels by Steven Barnes from my local library using inter-library loan.

What about Black characters by white sci fi authors? The only one who leaps to mind is Robert A. Heinlein. The main character in Tunnel in the Sky, Rod Walker, is black, as are a couple of the other characters. And Sergeant Jelal in Starship Troopers is black as well — a fact Heinlein, who loved to jolt readers out of their comfort zone, doesn’t reveal until half-way through the book, well after readers have had time to form an opinion about the character. Tunnel in the Sky, by the way, was written in 1955, and Starship Troopers in 1959.

As to me, I’m tired of the good guys always being white. That was a big part of the reason the alien Aleyni, my main character, Raketh Frey, and his father in my upcoming novel, “Relocated,” are all black. Another character who proves sympathetic, Major Brad Reynolds, is of mixed Native American heritage. The bad guys are white, and yes, it was a deliberate choice.

I’d like to see readers, regardless of race, be more open to reading about multi-ethnic characters, and I’d like to see more writers putting them in their fiction. I wish more we had more Black writers of speculative fiction, and more white writers with who are willing to take a risk and include Black characters in theirs.

Call me naive, but in my opinion, “I didn’t think about the race of my character,” is a cop-out. We live in a race-conscious world, a world that still marginalizes Blacks. I don’t want to see that continued into our vision of the future.

Do leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Lifelines. Who is your favorite Black poet? Who is your favorite Black speculative fiction author?

And be sure to check out my awesome fellow bloggers and support them by buying their novels. And keep reading.

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event: 

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:

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of, & Visit him:






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Leading Action


Leading Action

I blinked my eyes against the hot daylight. Drastic force had blown up the building complex. The broad end, the one that had contained the housing for the enemy’s troops, had been completely demolished, and the rest of the base had fared little better.

“That’s the end of that.” Marvin’s voice held a brute edge I didn’t like.

I grunted. He’d pushed my bitter button. However much the enemy had deserved to die, I couldn’t help but feel regret.

************** Check out the Poetic Muselings blog for the prompt that lead to this story. My words and the new phrases that resulted are posted in the comments.

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After Christmas Blues, a short Christmas Tale


After Christmas Blues
by Margaret Fieland

Mrs. Claus is up in arms. Even with a full day to deliver the presents, Santa didn’t finish until 2PM on Christmas Day, and he’s so exhausted he’s in bed for a week.

“It’s outrageous,” Donner snorts when Mrs Claus asks for help. “We need a new plan.”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” Rudolph murmurs. “After all, it’s only once a year.” His nose flashes a couple of times.

Donner tosses his antlers. “Just wait until you’re my age, youngster. That sleigh gets heavier every year, and every year when I get back I’m too stiff to fly again for at least a month.”

“Well, what do you suggest,” Vixen pipes up. “We’re already limiting our deliveries to good children between five and ten who celebrate Christmas.” She tosses her antlers and smiles.

“Yes,” Blixen adds, “and we’ve got a stack of complaints from the parents of the under-fives.”

“There’s that new North Pole Federal Express office,” Prancer offers, shifting from hoof to hoof. “We could offload the excess, just leave enough so Santa doesn’t feel useless.” The reindeer all nod.

And that, boys and girls, is why most Christmas gifts come in the mail.

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