Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Determination Make the Difference Between Published or Not

We are blessed today with a Guest Posting by the Multi-Published and very talented Larriane Wills aka Larion Wills (two names, one author, thousands of stories)

When I was a teenager—yes, many years ago—I had already been a storyteller all of my life. The only one I told those stories to, however, had been myself. In high school I thought about writing them down enough to sign up for an English class. On our first writing assignment, I got an F. Did that mean I couldn’t write? I thought so.  To me, that meant it had to be pretty bad. My first rejection. I transferred out of the class and that experience stayed with me for years, not that it kept me from writing. I just put the stories away when I finished.

In my late twenties, I played at submitting again, thinking the way to go would be with an agent. One told me how great my writing was, but it needed polish. For just a minimal fee he could provide that service. I refused, telling him my ego wouldn’t permit it. He misunderstood my meaning, interpreting it to mean I wouldn’t stand for having my words changed, not that I couldn’t afford it. His response was a hateful, it was commercial, not literature. I thought to write back and ask how long after something was written to make a living was it considered literature instead of commercial but instead considered the source. I also put all thoughts of submitting a story back into the closet. The man didn’t think my writing was any good; he just wanted to make money off of me.

Five years ago, I started submitting again, seriously, with the determination to follow through no matter how many rejections. I told myself I was tough enough to take it. What made the difference? Look for the D word above. When the first five or ten rejections came back, I didn’t toss everything back in the closet. On the few where the person had taken the time to make comments or do some editing, I studied. I read articles in writer’s magazines, books on writing, and I applied what I learned. My stories were not what noone liked; it was my presentation from everything from formatting to comma usage, weak passive sentences and dangling bits and pieces that made what I wrote hard to read.

I had three manuscripts in what I had thought were in submitting condition. I revamped them all—with determination. The first I sent in six months later was accepted. That was twelve published books, four more under contract and three publishers ago.

Just think of the time I wasted by not getting the right message. Don’t let a teacher who is too involved in comma placement to remember to say a word or two about talent discourage you. Don’t let disreputable people only out to make money embarrass you. But, and this is very important, learn the basics. If I offered you two pieces of candy from my pocket, one that had slipped from the wrapper and was covered in lint, one that was wrapped all tidy and clean, which would you take? Why would a publisher or agent spend the time cleaning out the lint of bad grammar and punctuation (which costs them) when he can accept hundreds of clean, well written copies? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with SciFi Author A. M. Roelke

We’re talking today with A. M. Roelke, author of a SciFi novella The Space Station Murders due out Spring 2011 by Muse It Up Publishing.

A.M., When did you begin writing?
When I was eight. Science fiction was my favorite thing to write almost from the beginning.

What do you like most and least about writing?
I like inventing. I dislike feeling nervous about what I’ve written, and worrying about revisions.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
Ray Bradbury. He inspires me, and he’s just such a cool guy.

What do you do for relaxation when not writing?
I read, swim, play with my cats, write some more, or watch TV. (I’m a fan of Jeff Goldblum stuff like “Raines” and “Tenspeed and Brown Shoe.”) I also like buying books, as my crowded quarters can attest.

Tell us a bit about your upcoming book.
Herb Molloy is a homeless ex-cop living on a space station, dealing with alcoholism after his partner's death. He meets station newbie, Zack Ives, and the two investigate a string of homeless people murders on the station. Friendship is cemented, old wounds are healed, and the secret of the murders is revealed as the killer strikes far too close to home.

The story is fast-paced (hey, it’s only 20,000 words, so it’s got to move along at a pretty good clip), but it also tackles emotions and grief, and things like the very human feeling of not wanting people to feel sorry for you when you’re down and out; how you’d almost rather keep your pride and stay in the gutter than get help from people who pity you.

When is the anticipated release?
May 2011

Why did you choose Muse It Up Publishing?
Why did they choose me??
Well, I came across MIU from hearing about Terri Main’s acceptance there for her sf/mystery novel, The Dark Side of the Moon. When I saw they accepted novellas, I decided to submit my story, “The Space Station Murders.” I’d written it without any thought of publication, but I really loved it and the characters. Beyond reason, perhaps.

Do you have a blog or website where we might read more about you or you stories?

Do you have any other book(s) available for purchase?
Nope, nothing yet! ;)

Where did the concept for the book come about?
I’m a big fan of buddy stuff, like Starsky and Hutch; I was thinking about cops, and about space stations (because of a stalled sf novel of mine), and about loss and the way people deal with it. The ideas came together in the creation of Herb Molloy, and how he's trying to deal with grief and survive in this marginal existence that he’s exiled himself to. 
But he doesn’t just wallow in grief. He tries to look after his fellow homeless people, and risks his own safety to help a station newbie, Zack Ives, who later becomes a friend. 

How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?
I really don’t recall. I wrote most of it pretty quickly. I got quite involved in the process. Then I got stuck. After a break, I ended up writing the ending in maybe one long sitting. I’d say the whole thing took at most a month, but probably less than that.
The revision took longer, though. I went over it several times, fiddled with it a lot, and then edited it further before sending it to MIU. 

Has there been anyone/anything who influenced your writing?
I think I’ve probably been influenced by more people than I know.  As a child, the book The Runaway Robot, by Lester del Rey was a big influence on me, both in its science fiction elements and its focus on character (in both senses of the word). Ray Bradbury is also an inspiration to me. He writes about things that really matter to him.  I want to write that way, too.

Where is your favorite place to write? Why?
On my laptop! It's faster and easier than any other way I've found.  Seriously, I had no idea how useful these things were until I got one. I’d never want to go back to transcribing everything from longhand — or even just working on a non-portable computer.

What does your muse require? (music, candles, incense)
It’s hard to say. If I ever figure out a sure-fire way to write, I’ll be one happy author! Maybe I’ll finally finish my stalled novels, too. :)

As a writer, what is your greatest fear?
That I’m really just a fraud, a terrible story-teller, and everyone will realize one day, laugh at me, and probably kick me off the internet. That and editing. :)

What projects are you working on now?
A couple sf stories. A sf/fantasy project about a woman who can teleport. And I’d really like to get back to my detective novel set on a space station.

What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?
Follow guidelines carefully and format professionally. It says a lot about you. If you don’t read the guidelines, you’re disrespecting the very place you want to accept your story. Also, don’t be afraid to go with non-paying publications at first. You can really learn a lot and get some wonderful encouragement while working your way up and improving your skills.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve been told that The Space Station Murders feels like the beginning of a series, and that I should consider writing more. I can see what people mean, but honestly, I don’t know. I want to think, and I do think, that these characters go on to have useful and happy lives.  I believe I’ve set them on that path. They don’t really need anything more from me. Although of course it would be fun to revisit their wisecracks, their personal issues, their energy and enthusiasm (or moodiness, as the case may be!), and the station itself - I don’t have another mystery for them to solve right now. I respect them too much to just crank something out. Besides, I have a certain other fellow to get out of trouble on another space station….

But having said all that, if I come up with another story for these characters, I’m very open to writing it. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and the characters mean a lot to me. :)

Thanks for reading, and ‘happy writing’!  =)
A. M. Roelke

You can contact A.M. Roelke at:

Here is an excerpt from her up-n-coming thriller:

The Space Station Murders
Chapter One
Ahead, a fight.
Herbert’s long, loping run took him to the fracas.  Three thugs—the Jensen brothers—wailing on a smaller guy, curly hair.  He was giving as good as he got, but with three to one, the odds were obvious.
Herb detoured, slammed a fist into the eldest Jensen’s ribs, hooked a leg around his and pulled him down.  Trod over him and tackled the next guy, leaving Curly with only one opponent.  Curly, breathing hard, trying not to double over, blew on his fists, rocked side to side, and clocked his opponent a left hook.
Herb smashed the giant’s face a few times, riding on his back.  They both toppled to the floor.  By the time he’d gotten loose, the biggest Jensen was getting up, the one Curly had been fighting was down, and both he and the third one had a busted lip.
“Molloy,” growled the biggest Jensen, picking up a pipe hidden beneath the park bench and smacking it into his palm. He advanced on Herb, murder in his eyes.
“Time to go, kid,” said Herb Molloy, voice rising.  “Street fight looking to turn into a homicide fest.”
The kid kicked the guy in the back of his knees, and took off running, his ratty sneaker soles flashing behind him.  He ran all out, the way he’d fought; Herb was behind him the whole way, even when he put on a burst of speed.
They stopped three streets down, leaned against a shop’s wall (spaceship repairs), and panted.  “Thanks,” said the kid, doubled over, panting, holding his side.  He spat phlegm in the alley and stood up, offered his hand.
Herb looked at it a second, took it.  Most street folks didn’t offer to shake hands.
“Zack Ives,” said the kid.
“Herb Molloy.”  He eyed the kid, who wasn’t as small as he’d looked, fighting the Jensens.  He was almost Herb’s height, and he wasn’t as young as Herb had first thought.  Ives moved with youthful energy, but the lines around his eyes said he was probably closer to Herb’s age. 
He wore ratty jeans, blue sneakers, and a flannel shirt that had seen better days.  He had a medium build and dark blue eyes.  His hair was the unruly kind that curls naturally, getting bigger and bigger if you didn’t do some serious pruning.  He hadn’t for awhile.  His tanned, olive-colored skin and his accent marked him as someone from a planet, not a native space rat.
“You new to the station?” said Herb, drawing back from the firm handshake.
“Yeah.  What’s it to you?”  The kid drew back, looking like he was ready for another fight.
“If you weren’t, you’d know to stay away from that bench.  That’s Jensen territory after 1200.”
“Military man, huh?” said Ives.
“I was,” said Herb, wondering at the kid’s nerve.  “Come on, I’ll show you a place where the homeless aren’t quite so territorial.”  He turned with loping steps, headed towards the bridge.
“I’m not just perpetually homeless, you know.  I’m gonna get a job.”  He caught up to Herb.
“Yeah, you and everyone else.  Look, you don’t have to prove anything to me, kid.”
“Yeh.  Sorry.”  He was silent a moment, jogging beside Herb, still sending off jittery vibes from the fight.  “Tried to buy passage to Magnus, you know.  Supposed to be work there.  I just got off Marshall.  Job market’s bust.  Thought I had enough for a ticket here and then to Magnus, but they said the price has gone up.  And then somebody stole my dough when I was sleeping, so now I gotta try and find a job here.  I mean, I didn’t come here just to take advantage of the park benches.”
“Nobody does.”  Homelessness was a huge problem on stations, though, just like in casino cities.  The weather was nice, and you could lose all your money easily and not have anywhere else to go.
“I can drive a cab, but I guess there’s not much use for that up here.”  He gestured vaguely to the wide, metal walls of the space station.  “I didn’t think it’ud smell quite so bad in space.  Aren’t they supposed to recycle the air?  Clean it or something?”
“They do.  They never get all the smell out, though.  Everything’s reused up here.”  He found himself slowing his speech a little, perhaps for contrast to the quick-talking Ives, perhaps in an effort to calm the kid down. 
“Yeah.  How ‘bout that?  I mean, you can’t get a drink of water without it being somebody’s recycled pee.”
“It is on planets, too.  Everything is.  Just not recycled quite as directly.”
“Hey, I never thought of it like that.”  By now the kid sounded quite cheerful.  He was practically skipping as he kept up easily with Herb’s pace.  He would be a talker, thought Herb.
“Here it is.”  He stopped in front of the bridge, a real bridge over a small, artificial stream segment.  It was meant for station beautification, but the homeless had pretty well claimed it—at least after dark, when the cops stopped patrolling to keep them away.  Already, a few of the regulars were setting up camp.
“Listen, I’ve got stuff to do.  Take care of yourself.”
“Yeah.  Hey, thanks! See you around!”  The curly haired kid (why did he keep thinking of Ives as a kid?) turned a big smile on him and waved.  Herb raised a hand in brief reply, blinking.  He got out of there.
He walked the station streets, back the way he’d been going, past uniform gray walls, floors, and ceiling that were decorated in a few places with paint to advertise shops.  Most of the walls were sprayed with a chemical substance that kept paint, etc., from sticking to prevent graffiti and keep the station looking clean and crime-free, never mind what it was really like.
Herb went to the back of the Bubble ‘n Grease, washed a few dishes, ate the meal Narsl had for him, and pocketed the three credits.  He detoured by the Bread Maniac’s, went around back and knocked on the door.  “Got the bread, Jed?”
“Yeh.  Here ya go.”  The balding man wore an apron dusted heavily with flour.  He gave Herb a careful look.  “You, uh, doing any better, Herb?”
“Yeh, sure.  These are for the people down at the bridge.”  He raised the bags and smiled, fake.
“Yeah.  Um, you know, Mark was asking about you.  Saw him at the bar the other day.  Said you weren’t at your old place.”
“I moved.”
“Yeah?  Well, maybe you ought to stop by the precinct sometime and see him.  He seemed worried.”
“Yeah.  Maybe I will.”  He handed over two of the credits, took the bread.  “Thanks.”
“No problem.”
He felt Jed’s eyes on him while he walked away.  Damn it.
By the time he got back to the bridge, the station was powered down for night.  Only a few wall lights remained lit, dim as a city street at midnight.  With the lights low, you couldn’t even see the curvature of the station, or the metal ceiling overhead.  You could’ve been on any city street. 
He walked jaunty and tough, his ‘cop walk,’ a real “don’t mess with me” signal.  Best not come off as a target, what with that killer still on the loose.
“That you, Herb honey?” Dolores’s hoarse smoker’s voice croaked out at him.
“Brought more bread?  Well, ain’t you a darlin’?”  Several others emerged, took the bread he handed out with silent nods and quiet thanks.  The old timers, the booze hounds, the kids hooked on various drugs.  He saved a couple of rolls for breakfast, and the kid.
“Seen a new kid, Dolores?”
“Yeah, honey.  I’m ’fraid he took your spot.  Told him not to, but he wouldn’t listen.  Said he’d fight you for it.”
“Talk about nerve.”
“Yeah, but he seems all right except for that, honey.”  The end of her cigarette glowed, reflected in her eyes like a cat’s.  “Listen, just teach him a lesson.  Don’t send him away, okay?”  She laid a hand on his arm, brief as a spider.
“Don’t worry.”  He rolled up the bag with the bread, stuffed it in his pocket, and strode towards the fifth niche.  It wasn’t much, just a little spot crumbled from wear, dug out further with a knife and a piece of metal. 
Herb had a locker for most of his things; he only kept a blanket in his niche, but still.  He crept quietly over.  The kid was curled up in it, snoring lightly.  At least he hadn’t stolen the blanket.  It got cold at night, with the heat turned down to conserve power—how low depending on how the station’s budget was faring.  Sometimes it was so cold a person on the streets could freeze to death.
“Hey.”  Herb tapped Zack’s shoulder. 
The kid jerked awake and grabbed him by the shirt, fierce and deadly, ready for a fight.
Herb closed his hands over the kid’s wrists, hard.  “Get up.  That’s my spot.  You can’t steal someone else’s spot.”
The fierceness left the kid.  “You?!”  His voice came out strangled.  He let go of Herb and tried to pull free.  “But you’re not homeless.”
“That’s right, I’m mayor of the whole damn station.  Now get out of my spot.”  He half hefted, half helped the kid out, brought a hand up against the side of his face—part slap, part pat—both a wake-up call and a reprimand.  “You won’t get far with an attitude like that.  You’re gonna be homeless here, you learn the rules.  Don’t take someone’s niche.”
“’M’sorry.  Thought they were jerking my chain.  Didn’t wanna seem like a weakling.”  He sounded humble enough, anyway.  He let go of Herb’s shirt and edged out of his spot.  “I didn’t take your blanket.”
“And if there’s a blanket there, it should clue you in, it’s somebody else’s spot.”
“Yeh.  Sorry.”
“Just don’t do it again.  Here.”  He pulled out the bag from his pocket; the paper rustled.  “Got you some rolls.”
“For me?!”
“Don’t wet yourself.  I gave some to everyone else here.”
The kid didn’t even eat right; he was snarfing his food loudly when Herb curled up in his pre-warmed niche and pulled the blanket over his shoulders.
Herb woke early; he always did; hadn’t has a good night’s sleep in six months.  (Benders didn’t count.)  But the kid was already up, sitting moodily in front of the mostly-worn-out heating coil, holding his hands over it. 
Herb folded his blanket, tucked it away, went to the stream for a drink.  The water was clean if you got it from the nozzle.  He joined the kid by the ‘fire.’  Pulled out his bread. 
Ives watched him glumly.  “So I guess the job market really is bad, if a guy like you is out of work.”
Herb snorted.  “What do you mean, ‘a guy like me?’”
“You know.  Tough.  Edjicated.  Good lookin’.”
Herb looked at him quickly, but the kid just looked glum.  It wasn’t a line.  Well, Herb knew he was good looking, tall, broad-shouldered, light-haired and with blazing blue eyes.  But his looks hadn’t improved any with his time on the street and he’d gotten used to not thinking he still had them.  Not that he’d relied on his appearance in his old life.  Being a cop wasn’t about looks.
“If that’s a cue for me to tell you my life story, it’s falling on deaf ears.”  Herb started to bite into his breakfast roll, then thought better of it, tore it in half and gave the kid half.
Ives dark-blue eyes widened, showing absurd gratitude and disbelief. 
“Just a roll, kid.  Take it.”
“Thanks.”  Again, he ate like a starving dog.  Herb shook his head a little.
“Get one of the guys to show you the pay showers.  You can’t bathe in the stream without being arrested, and it only costs half a credit.”
“I’ll do that.  Thanks.”  He sat staring into the coil, a hungry look still on his face, making it tight, pinched.  Herb watched him a moment.
“Listen, kid, if you’ve got family or something and need some money for a call, I can loan you a couple credits.”
Ives shook his head.  “No family.”
Herb waited a beat.  “Friends?  Somebody who owes you a favor?”
Ives gave a mirthless snort.  “Nobody with the money to get me off here.  Listen, don’t worry.  Thanks for the help, but I’ll land on my feet.  I always do.”  He got up, dusted off his pants.
“You just watch yourself here, kid.  You make a few dumb mistakes like you made yesterday and you just might not survive.”
“Hey, I can handle myself—could’ve even with the… whatsit brothers.  You didn’t have to jump in.”
“You’re lucky I did.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  You seen any papers since you got here?”
The kid shook his head, a blank look on his face.  “Too busy and didn’t have the money.”
“Well, let me give you a clue, then.  Somebody’s been offing homeless people, and if you’re not careful, you could be next.”  He watched the kid’s eyes widen.  “Don’t hang around alone.  Stay in travelled areas, avoid dark alleys.  That’s usually where the bodies are found.”
“Bodies?!  How many has he killed?”
“The cops are working on it.  But it’s always a dark spot, usually near a trash heap and a busted light so the victims won’t be found till morning.”  He cocked a finger at the kid.  “Do your job hunting in the open, and get back here before dark.  This is a safe spot.”
“Yeah, I know.  They told me—that lady, Dolores?—she says there’s an ex-cop here.  Says he keeps them safe.  I bet it’s that old guy with the harmonica.”
Herb smiled to himself.  “Look after yourself, kid.”  He got up and started towards town.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Three Things To Remember

Three Things to Remember
by C.K. Volnek

I recently had the great fortune of hearing a powerful young man speak. The man was Curtis Tomasevich, a member of the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal USA Bobsled team. He's a local celebrity from Shelby, Nebraska, a little town in the middle of nowhere, population 670. But Curt sang great accolades to his little home town. He credited them for allowing his dream to become reality. Before becoming a gold medal olympian, he was a struggling athlete with monumental financial needs in order to make it to the Olympics. Without a medal, he was just another guy, competing as a member of a bobsled team. No sponsorships, no job, no rich relatives.

At a plea from Curt's parents, his townfolk went to work. They held benefits and street dances to raise money for Curt. While Curt's teammates were happy to broadcast their metropolitan home towns were raising a few thousand dollars for their needs, Curt blushed and revealed that his family and friends had raised over $25,000. Yes, you read it right, over twenty-five thousand dollars! Not bad for a little town of 670.

As Curt continued his talk, I couldn't help but grasp onto his 'three things to remember.' He said...

1. Remember where you came from.
2. Remember where you are.
3. Remember where you want to be.

I have posted these three simple statements by my computer. Though I may not view them exactly as Curt, the three things to remember have a profound meaning to me.

1. Remember where you came from. For me, it is to remember who your family is, your friends, those who have helped you on your way. Remember your struggles. Remember your accomplishments. For all your past has made you the person you are today. Embrace your past, good and bad, and rejoice in the person it has made you. There is none like you.

2. Remember where you are now. This is an easy one for me to forget. I think about the past. I think of the future. But many times I forget to think about the present. I forget to be thankful for the very moment I am living, for all the thing I have and for all the things I don't have. Remember the present, for that is what it is...a present, a gift of life.

3. Remember where you want to be. I can't help but smile as I think of this one. Everyone needs a dream, something to go after with all your heart and soul. I, myself, had always dreamt of writing novels. But life got in the way for many years. I pushed my dream aside, but I didn't throw it away. I finally pulled that dream back out, dusted it off and got to work. Now, I have three middle-grade novels under contract. Sure, I wish I would have dusted it off sooner, but I think I needed that time to grow into the person I am, able to write these stories now. But to me, the key was, I kept my dream. I didn't give up on it. If I had, I would have missed out on the joy I felt by completing those books and signing my contracts.

These 'three things to remember' are a wonderful tribute to Curt Tomasievich. And to me, they merge into every aspect of my life, from my family, to my home town, to my writing. Where would my writing be without them?

Without the past, I would not have the experiences that flavor my stories. I would not be able to create the characters from all those people that have left their imprint on my life.

As for the present. It is a gift to be able to write. It makes me happy to open my heart and mind and create, my fingers trying to keep up as my muse blasts story after story.

Where I want to be? I'm always striving for more, to write that next book that will touch my reader's heart and make him or her sigh when they've finished reading it. Without my dream, my desire, I am just a body, going through the day to day motions, ever searching for what makes me happy. But with my dream, I have a direction steering me to do what I have been created to do.

So, relish who you are, where you came from and where you are going. Seize the day and celebrate, for there is only one you. Keep your dreams alive and go after them. Few are born with natural talent, but many are talented because they believe in their dream and do what they have to do to make it come true.

Write on!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Interview with Penny Lockwood's Eleven-Year-Old Main Character Wendy Wiles

We are talking today with Wendy Wiles, the eleven-year-old main character of Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood.

Wendy, tell us where you live? 
Warren, Oregon, USA

Tell us about your world, city, time period, etc.  
I live in a small rural community during the late 1980’s.  Our town is about a half hour away from Portland, which is the largest city in Oregon.  I used to live there, but my parents separated for awhile.  We couldn’t afford to stay in our Portland apartment, so Dad moved us to this old farmhouse in the country.  When we arrived, I met my neighbor, Jennifer.  She told me our house was haunted.

Tell us about your life
Start with your family:  In Ghost for Rent, I live with my mom and my brother, Michael.  My mom and dad are thinking of getting a divorce, so he doesn’t live with us, but we see him. I like to write poetry.  One of my poems was published in a magazine for kids.  Whenever, I get depressed, I write a poem. I like to read Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allen Poe. My dad is a professor at the university in Portland.  My mom wants to be a writer.  When we move to Warren, she gets a job on the local newspaper.  My brother is just a big tease and a brat.

Is there a significant other in your life yet? 
I’m too young to have a boyfriend.

Do you think you want to have your own children eventually? 
No children for a long, long time. I don’t want kids until I’m at least 30 years old.

Do you have any pets? 
I don’t have a pet yet, but my best friend, Jennifer, has a Golden Retriever, Champ, who hangs out with us a lot.

Are you still in school? 
Yes, I’m in 6th grade.

Do you have a job? 
No, too young.  When I grown up, I want to write poetry or be an English teacher in a high school.

Tell us about your friends: 
My best friend in my new town is Jennifer Seth.  She lives on the next street in back of us. We have to go through the woods to get to her house.  She told me about the little boy who haunts our house.  She understands when I tell her about all the strange things that happen in our house.  Not only are we haunted by a little boy (his name is John), but also by his older sister, Ruth.  Jennifer helps me solve the mystery at our house.

What is your position in the book? Are you the Main character, supporting character, etc. 
I am the main character and the one who solves the mystery of what happened to the people who haunt us. 

Do you consider yourself to be a Good Guy or Bad Guy or Neither?
I am a “good guy,” because I help the ghosts tell their story.

Do you enjoy the position you’ve been given or would you prefer someone else’s? 
Sometimes, it’s a little scary being the one the ghosts communicate with, but I also enjoy solving the mystery. 

What is your role or objective in the story?
When Ruth appears to me, I know I have to find out what happened to her and why she died.  It’s also important to find out how her brother, John, died.  My role in the story is to do research and follow clues the ghosts give me to figure out what happened to them and why they are haunting our house.

Do you think you can attain your objective? 
Even though my mom says, “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” I think I can figure out what happened.  If the ghosts didn’t want someone to know, they wouldn’t be trying to communicate with me.

Will you have to change anything about yourself in order to attain your objective?
How do you feel about having to change, if so?  I have to overcome my fear of the things that are happening in our house.

What obstacles are in the way of your achieving or helping someone else achieve the objective for your story? 
The biggest obstacle is my mom, since she doesn’t believe in ghosts. My brother, Mike, is another obstacle since he’s a big tease.  Even though he’s around and sees some of the stuff I see, he tries to tell me he’s responsible.  The other obstacle is the fact Ruth and John died in the 1800’s, so it’s really hard to find information about them and try to track down how and why they died.

How do you think you might overcome those obstacles? 
Whenever something weird happens, I tell my mom.  I hope eventually, she’ll believe me.  My friend, Jennifer, and I go to the library to do research and I hope my brother will take my side and help, too.

Are you a happy or sad person? Why?
I’m a little bit of both. I’m happy I found a new friend, but I’m sad because my mom and dad are having problems.  I miss my dad.  Ruth’s story makes me sad when I figure out what happened to her. It’s hard to move to a new school and make new friends.

What are your hopes and plans for the future? 
I hope my mom and dad get back together again.  I hope my brother stops teasing me.  I hope Jennifer and I will stay friends forever.  I hope I can get a pet of my own.

Do you have a favorite hobby? 
My favorite things to do are reading and writing poetry.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Why? 
I like living in Oregon.  I like the changing seasons, but I also like listening to the rain come down on the roof when I’m in the attic.  I like the big trees and all the flowers in the spring.  I think the Pacific Northwest is the best place.

Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
No, and I don’t think I ever will be.

Do you attend a church or organized religion? Why or why not?
No, we don’t go to church, but my grandma does.  My grandma is Catholic. She’s my mom’s mom.  Mom decided when she was a teenager she didn’t like all the money that got spent on the decorations in the churches, so she stopped going.  She says nature is her religion.  My dad is a scientist and doesn’t believe in church.

Do you believe in an afterlife? Reincarnation? Good vs Evil? Supreme Power? Explain. 
Since our house was haunted by ghosts, I definitely believe in an afterlife.  The other stuff, I’m still not sure about.  When I get older, I plan to study about different religions.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you? 
I think I’m talented and clever at figuring out stuff.  I think I’m going to like living in my new town, now I have a best friend.

Do you have any pictures of yourself? Of your world or where you live?
There’s a picture of my house on the cover of my book.

When can readers buy your book and read your story?
There’s an excerpt from my book at my author’s web site:
There are also reviews on Amazon
And the first chapter on Fictionwise

Where can they find it to buy?
On Amazon (in Kindle): http://tinyurl.com/27puzze
On Fictionwise (in other ebook formats) http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b8656/?si=0

Does your Creator have a website or blog that might have more information about you or your story?
Her blog is
but she hasn’t been talking about me much lately on her blog.  She’s working on the next story about my life, Ghost for Lunch.  There was one mystery which didn’t get solved in Ghost for Rent. In Ghost for Lunch, my brother, my friend, and I have to figure out who’s haunting a local restaurant.

Is this a one-time story or will others be following – like a series? 
There are more stories to come.  Ghost for Lunch is with a publisher, Ghost for Sale, and Ghost for Thespians (both working titles) are planned for the future.

Thank you Wendy, this was a fun interview. I hope your books all sell well and you become quite famous.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Words Make Great Playmates

In Search of Chester Drawers

Guest Blogger 
Janet Morris Grimes

            As a writer, I spend a great deal of time with words. They become my friends. I enjoy meeting them for the first time, checking out their local hangouts, and looking them in the eye to determine what they might bring into our relationship.
            My favorites are those with some meat on their bones. I appreciate their various personalities, and the fact that they explain what they mean simply by the way they sound. For example:
Discombobulated – though I never remember actually being combobulated, I am well familiar with this guy.
Crotchety – I probably would never refer to him as a friend, because quite frankly, these people don’t make great friends.
Besmirched – if you’ve ever been the victim of a good besmirching, you will know it immediately.

And my two favorites, at least until I meet someone new, are these:

Bumfuzzled and his fraternal twin, Flummoxed. You can just tell by the looks on their faces that they are wondering “what in the world just happened?”

As a self-proclaimed word detective, there are some that have wormed their way into existence, misused and abused so often that we no longer know what is appropriate and what is not. There are times we must hold them accountable, forcing them to explain why they are here, and just what their purpose might be.

You may have heard people refer to Chester Drawers, as if he was a person, usually present, but offering little help, on moving day. Of course, we are all aware that there is no such person, and that this piece of furniture is actually a chest of drawers.

There are many more imposters, either in word or phrase form, that pop up in the English language, either mispronounced or misspelled on a daily basis.
Could not care less you often hear people say they “could care less,” which is wrong. If they could not care less about a topic, it is placed at the bottom of their caring totem pole. To say you could care less about something is no big announcement.

Mischievous – I often referred to my son when he was younger as being mischievious, with a long ‘e’ after that ‘v’. As it turned out, he was only mischievous.

Memento – Many people write this word as momento, which makes sense, because a memento is something that captures a moment. It is, however, spelled with an ‘e’ rather than an ‘o.’ The word momento is actually the Italian and Spanish word for moment.

Regardless – Pay attention to the number of people who use this word as “irregardless.” ‘Less’ as a suffix means ‘without,’ so the word already means ‘without regard.’ The ‘ir’ is completely unnecessary, and incorrect.

Recurring – The same is true for this word. Many form the word ‘reoccur,’ which is awkward in both its spoken and written form. Why create a new word when a perfectly functional one exists?

Perseverance – I have been guilty of pronouncing this one as ‘perSERverance,’ but the problem is that there is no ‘r’ before that ‘v.’ If the first syllable ends in ‘r,’ we often try to insert an ‘r’ in the second syllable as well.

Sherbet – The same is true for this word. There is no ‘r’ before that ‘t’, so it is pronounced ‘sher bit.’ It is my least favorite dessert anyway, and personally, this causes me to like it even less.

Prerogative – Perhaps we can blame Bobby Brown for this one, as he released a rap song in the 80’s called That’s My Prerogative. He pronounced it, though, as ‘PER rog a tive.’ Just remember that’s a ‘Pre’ instead of ‘Per,’ even though it does not roll off the tongue as easily.  

In today’s world of text abbreviations and online chats, the chances are great that many more words can be trampled over in the future. But, in order to gain respect as a writer, it might be wise to do a little research in advance to make sure you understand the words you are using. By getting to know them and showing them a little respect, they might just do the same for you. 

About our Guest Blogger: Janet Morris Grimes is the author of The Parent's Guide to Uncluttering Your Home, scheduled to be released in December, 2010 through Atlantic Publishing. She currently writes from Canton, MI on such topics as faith, family, writing, fatherlessness, and teen issues. For additional information, visit her website at http://janetmorrisgrimes.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Virtual Blog Tour of YA SciFi Author Sandy Lender

This week I am sponsoring SciFi Author Sandy Lender on her Virtual Blog Tour. Sandy has written a YA SciFi titled Problems on Eldora Prime. You can purchase it at http://tinyurl.com/EldoraPrime.
You can watch a trailer for the book on YouTube athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9uLPCXPNNQ

Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure:
An Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Problems on Eldora Prime by Sandy Lender
“They’re bringing out a phase canon!” Khiry announced. She pointed to the front bank of windows as if no one would know where to look. As if she didn’t speak to someone three years her senior, she ordered, “Kor, you better power up something if we’re not planning a quick surrender.”
“Why are we not off the moon?” Marlon demanded.
"Why are you not telling me what’s on board?” she demanded back.
“It’s none of your pegging business. Now get us off the ground before I have Trane fire you out the airlock.”
Khiry pulled another lever and slammed her hand down on a button with the words “fuel mix” etched below it. “I’ll try again. Let’s hope we don’t shake apart on the platform.”
She looked back at Gibson, who cringed as if he’d been hit. For a security chief, he didn’t display much bravado clinging to the doorway with white knuckles. He stared wide-eyed out the window as if he expected a plasma bolt to crash through and spang him. Khiry wondered if he was about to run away into the depths of the ship.
Over the complaint of the ship’s engines, she heard the familiar whir of the Instigator’s phase canon power up. Kor was fast. She spared a glance from her controls to him. The young man’s stoic presence set her at ease for some reason.
The high-pitched beep, double beep, beep sounded on Khiry’s console. She didn’t even glance at the red light this time. Too many fingers were needed to trouble-shoot this lift-off. Better to pretend their communications were down anyway.
“Is that USPS?” Kor asked.
“Mind your business,” Marlon snapped. “Target that phase canon. Spang it.”
“Aye, Captain. And you’ll speak at my trial?”
“We’ll get no trials,” Khiry muttered under her breath. “This gets wetter by the minute.” She knew no good could come of this day.
Whatever her personal opinions on the United Society for Peace and Strength or its Presidente Lamahl Endh back on Earth, she didn’t condone treason. To ignore a direct request to power down and submit to an investigation bordered on treason. Spanging an Authority Customs Investigation team? That didn’t just cross the line. That jumped up and down on the line while thumbing your nose and mooning someone pretty high up the chain of command—possibly Presidente Lamahl Endh himself.
Marlon leaned over her console again. He flipped the switch to speak to Red in engineering. “When you get us enough energy to get off this rock, start fixing things. My ship’s falling apart around my ears.”
“When?” the tinny female voice sassed back. “You mean if, right?”
“Make it happen!” He neglected to flip the toggle back before stepping to his space behind the stations, watching ACI vehicles move toward his vessel.
“Why are we still on the ground?”
As if she heard his furious question, the ship slowly began to rise. She shook and shuddered, screaming and wailing as if every bolt and weld would fly apart from the strain. Despite the thrust of the engines, the rise was maddeningly slow. The ACI vehicles on the moon’s surface backed away from the enormous energy and heat. Sound became all anyone knew.
Sound rattled their teeth. Sound joined the shudder of the ship to bang their brains against their skulls. Khiry closed her eyes against the pain of it, praying to God that they’d break atmosphere without falling back to the moon’s surface.
“This is gonna be a short trip,” she heard Red shout over the communications link.
Here’s What They’re Saying About the Book
From Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
"...a novel with plenty of bite: when swords inevitably fly forth from their sheaths, Lender doesn't skimp
on the action." -Realms of Fantasy
"Sandy needs to be considered one of the top Fantasy/Suspense writers right now." -Suspense Magazine
"I absolutely fell in love with the dragons." -TimelessTeens.com
"Sandy Lender’s space adventure…is fast-paced and action-filled with villains you will love to hate,
and heroines and heroes you won’t soon forget, especially the spunky pilot Khiry whose indomitable
spirit heartens and inspires." – Midwest Book Reviews
Readers may recognize Sandy Lender as the Choices series author and a leader of world-building, characterization, and revision workshops. Her degree in English and career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations, including troll extermination on spaceships. Sandy is also a sea turtle conservationist and obsessive music fan.
This is an interesting article Sandy wrote about a unique contest she survived with great success.
Write It Like You Mean It
By Sandy Lender
How many nights a week do you get to tell your mom or dad you’re going to skip doing homework to write scenes for a book instead? Right? If you’re in college, you might be able to arrange your schedule so you have Tuesdays and Thursdays totally free and get to write like mad for a few hours on those days. (I never managed that one.)
For me, I have a day job in addition to my writing job, so I take advantage of weekends and special writing “events” to get fiction stuff done. I wrote Problems on Eldora Prime in less than 72 hours for the 2009 International 3-Day Novel Contest. If it weren’t for that fab contest, what would have motivated me to write 51,000 words of dragons and teen leaders in space?
To actually do it, I had to plan ahead. The admins of the contest encouraged us participants to make an outline. That’s something I don’t typically do for my novels. So…new thing right there.
The admins also suggested getting some research out of the way if you needed to do it so you stayed off the web during the 72-hour writing marathon. Because I write fantasy that comes out of my imagination, suddenly doing research for spaceship engines and fuel types was something I needed to prep ahead of the weekend. Another new thing.
The contest started at midnight Friday. I took a nap after dinner Friday, waking before midnight so I could set up my bottles of water and pieces of Dove chocolate. To begin, I wrote the all-important synopsis statement. It’s the quick-n-dirty sentence that captures the essence of the story in about 15 to 20 words. For Problems on Eldora Prime, that would be “A teen pilot faces danger, dragons, and a new role when a stowaway misdirects her spaceship.”
I recommend taking the synopsis statement a step further, which I did when writing Problems on Eldora Prime. If you add some extra info to a document right at the beginning to let yourself know what motivates your main character (MC), what the main conflict will be, what you intend the outcome/resolution to be, who you want the bad guy (antagonist) to be, etcetera, you’ll be able to stay on track more easily while writing. Even if you’ve got an outline, having a statement that reminds you of your MC’s motivation keeps you from going off on a tangent.
The contest ended at midnight Monday, Labor Day. During the 72 hours, I didn’t get much sleep, but when I did sleep, it was usually with my fingers on the keyboard. I had alarms set on my phone, computer, alarm clocks, and watch to wake me at certain times just in case I fell asleep. I had finger foods like carrots, pre-made sandwiches, hotdogs, beef jerky, and the all-important chocolate at the ready so I didn’t have to take time out to cook anything.
At the end, each contestant prints out his or her manuscript (MS) and mails it to the admins. I think there were 650 or 640 participants in 2009. I didn’t win the grand prize of publication with the contest publisher. (Bummer!) To make life even more difficult, my regular publisher doesn’t do novels of less than 90,000 words. (Bummer again!) But I’m driven in this business. Night Wolf Publications out of Canada wants short stories, young adult fiction, and a ton of other stuff. Now Problems on Eldora Prime is available in paperback and a bunch of eBook platforms including Kindle. (Bonus!)
A weekend full of binge-writing is a rare treat for me. It takes total concentration. I love it.
If you don’t get to blow off homework a couple nights a week, maybe you can plan a writing marathon for some Saturday or Sunday afternoon with the crafty ideas I’ve lined out for you here. They worked for my conception and completion of Problems on Eldora Prime.
If you want to check into the 34th International 3-Day Novel Contest, sign up to get on the e-mail list for registration info atwww.3daynovel.com. E-mail them at info@3daynovel.com. The contest takes place over Labor Day Weekend 2011.
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”