Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Blog Hop

Welcome to the first stop on Marketing For Romance Writers' Black Friday Blog Hop.
Here's an excerpt of my latest romantic suspense, Blonde Demolition.

She slammed her hand on the table. Her beer wobbled. She caught it. "You are not seducing me back into this life."

     He shifted away from her, his arms crossed. His expression didn't change. He hadn't even flinched at her outburst. Not even at her use of the word seduce, which she knew any shrink would have a field day with.

Had he predicted what she would do?

     When they had worked together, he'd known before she did that she had to pee. She'd never met anyone so in tune with her. Maybe she never wanted to have anyone know her that way again.

     "I'm different now. I have this great life." Her finger stabbed the air, punctuated every word. "You cannot take that away from me."

     "I'm not taking away anything. I'm giving you something. I'm giving you back the ability to make a difference."

     She stalked away from him. "You think I don't make a difference? What about the family whose house didn't burn down because I was here?"

     "You can prevent many more houses from not burning down with us."

     She shook her head. "It isn't the same."

     He would not pull her strings. He would appeal to her sense of honor and her strong desire to help people. He knew all the cards she held and how to play them to his advantage.

"No, it's better," he said.

Buy links:

Other books by Chris Redding

Corpse Whisperer
The Drinking Game
Confessions: Volume One
A View to a Kilt

The Rest of the Hop:
W. Lynn Chantale
 Christine Ashworth 
Chelle Cordero
Tammy Dennings Maggy
Shelley Munro
Debra Holland
Jane Wakely
Smoky Zeidel
Ann Siracusa

Here is your next stop:
W. Lynn Chantale
 There is a prize at each stop for one lucky commenter. The more blogs you comment on, the more chances to win multiple prizes.

I'm giving away an iPod Shuffle.
Good Luck and Happy Hopping

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Authorsday: Linda Welch


How long have you been writing?

I have daydreamed in epic detail as long as I can remember. I began writing them down about fifteen years ago.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

I enjoy reading mystery with an urban fantasy/paranormal slant so wanted to write in that genre. Although I only saw something suspiciously eerie once, I have heard and felt strange phenomenon since my childhood, and my husband and I heard noises which could not be attributed to natural causes in many homes in which we lived. Hence, the ghost characters in my books.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I begin with a vague plot, often the beginning and end, then the characters take over and I just follow along. The book I’m working on now is the first for which I did an outline because I already knew most of the plot devices.

What drew you to the subject of Along Came a Demon?

It was an idea that popped into my head years ago, a woman who sees and communicates with the dead as one does with the living. I decided she would be overwhelmed by so many dead persons wanting her attention, so she sees only those who died a violent death.  Then I realized that if these dead are so real to her, she must have a way to identify the dead from the living, hence their whispering voices and frozen expression. Because I wanted to make her story different from the many urban fantasy novels out there now, her world is not littered with supernatural creatures and she is secretive about her ability.

Describe your book.

Along Came a Demon, The Demon Hunters, and Dead Demon Walking star Tiff Banks. She is mildly snarky, impatient and suspicious by nature. Tiff sees and speaks to the ghosts of those who died violently. If not for their frozen expressions and whisperings voices she would have difficulty distinguishing them from the living. These ghosts, or as she calls them, shades, are helpful when Tiff assists her local police department in their investigations. The dead are all around and they’re always watching, they can do nothing else, and they tell Tiff what they see and hear. She also lives with two shades who have become her family, even though they often drive her to distraction. Tiff also sees through the glamour of demons to what they actually are. They are not really demons, but Tiff calls them that. In her opinion, anything that can charm a person for the purpose of sensual and sexual gratification is demonic.

In Along Came a Demon, Tiff has to solve the mystery of why the shade of a woman is able to break the rules of the afterlife to seek her and what happened to the woman’s son, but first she must convince the police that the son does exist. Having a partner foisted on her does not make Tiff happy, particularly as Royal Mortensen is a demon. A loner, she doesn’t expect much from life except failed relationships and does not know how to react to a man who seems to assume they are destined to be together. Trying to solve the case while distracted by her un-Tiff-like feelings for the handsome detective turns her life upside-down. Royal seems perfect – he even cooks! But is he?

What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

Characterization and background detail. To really know a character, the reader has to know what the character sees, hears, feels and even smell what they smell.

What’s your writing schedule?

I don’t have one. I envy writers who dedicate so many hours of their day to writing. Some days I put in up to three hours, other days, nothing. I tend to get my ideas when I am away from the laptop. I carry a mini digital recorder with me everywhere I go, even to bed.

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

That my main character, Tiff Banks, talks to the reader on a one-on-one, personal level.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

I have several: Tiff’s ghost roommates Jack and Mel, a suave, egotistical demon named Chris Plowman, but another in the yet to be published fifth book could well be their rival. She’s the ghost of an English woman, a gossip and motor-mouth.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I enjoyed writing the scenes in which Royal teases Tiff. Tiff has never been teased before so does not know how to react.

Author Bio:

Linda Welch was born in Hampshire, England. She lived in Idaho, California and New Mexico and finally settled in Utah. She lives in a mountain valley with her husband, Scottish terrier and cat. Unlike Tiff Banks of Linda's Whisperings series of paranormal mysteries, she is not tall, white-haired and does not see demons. She does see moose, deer, raccoon, skunk, a huge bird population and a ridiculous amount of snow. When not working at her other job and depending on the season, she is usually tending to family, attacking weeds in her garden or shoveling out after a snowstorm.

Book Blurb:

I'm told the dead are all around us. I wouldn't know about that. I see only the violently slain. They could be victims of hit-and-run, innocents caught in cross-fire, the murdered. They whisper to me and they never, ever, forget the face of their killer. They aren't the only supernatural things I see. We live side by side with what some call the Otherworldy. That's too much of a mouthful for me. I call them demons. If you saw them as I do, you'd know why. I'm Tiff Banks. Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plotting the Novel, Murder on the Danube

William S. Shepard

            “Murder On The Danube” was a story that I wanted to tell. The heroic days of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 had thrilled the world, and I wanted that story to be known by a new generation. When I was assigned to the American Embassy in Budapest as Political Officer in the early 1970s, however, the country was still under a Communist regime, and research into the period was impossible. It was even dangerous for Hungarian citizens to be seen talking with Western diplomats, let alone telling their story of this famous uprising.

            Years later I left the Foreign Service and became a writer. I began to plan the novel, which would incorporate the Hungarian Revolution as a backdrop for a present day murder. I must confess that the film, “The English Patient,” had made quite an impression on me. I wanted also to have a memorable love affair in the back story of this novel set in Budapest.

            The initial problem was how to portray the Revolution itself. Those who knew it knew those thirteen days from October 23 to November 4, 1956, intimately, every detail remaining etched in their memories. Would I have flashbacks from time to time? That struck me as confusing for the modern reader. At the same time, I had to give enough detail so that the reader who didn’t have knowledge of those days would acquire it. The problem bothered me for several months. Finally, an inspired comment from a high school student in a seminar on creative writing that I was giving provided the answer. He suggested that at the end of each chapter, I set forth what happened in one day of the Revolution itself. With this insight, the structure of the novel began to take shape.

            Those chapter end segments would, of course, have to be tied together to the main plot line. Why not have their development parallel what was going on in the main story? Then it occurred to me – the best way for both the current story and the background to fit together would be for the same characters to fit in both. If I told the story of a small group of Freedom Fighters, for example, one traitor on the group could also be the murderer in the present day story – he or she would kill to avoid the truth coming out.

            This is where the plotting came in, and it lasted for months. I did charts and time lines for each character, when he or she was with other members of the resistance group, and when alone. And then, with a good time line in the form of a memoir by the group’s leader, I couldn’t resist having him mistaken on several key details! Unlocking those unplanned errors would be the job for my diplomatic sleuth, Robbie Cutler.

            Of course, clearly I would have the final manuscript vetted by a veteran of that heroic street fighting. But I had to master the details, and so with the assistance of the Hungarian Embassy in Washington I visited Budapest and went to the 1956 Historical Institute, where I held a seminar on the period, and in turn received a thorough, day by day briefing on the street fighting.

            And so the novel began to take shape, the back story developing nicely, and the contemporary story gave me an opportunity to have the reader discover today’s Hungary – with even a peep over the Romanian border for a scene or two in Transylvania! For fun, I also introduced a ranking Australian diplomat who escaped Hungary in 1957, became a distinguished Australian citizen, and has now returned to Budapest – to find who murdered his brother during the 1956 uprising!

            All was now ready for the conclusion, when the entire process ground to an unexpected stop. How was I going to have Cutler find out who was the traitor in 1956, when all of the records from the period have been officially sealed? I checked this out with the Hungarian Embassy, and found that this policy had been rigidly followed. They did not want the murders and cries for vengeance that had followed when other former communist nations had opened their records from the period.

            For a month or so I was stuck. Then the solution occurred to me out of the blue – I remembered Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.” Sometimes the solution to the most difficult of problems is really right in front of you, in plain sight!
William S. Shepard

            Now residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Shepards enjoy visits from their daughters and granddaughters, fine and moderate weather, ocean swims at Assateague, Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the company of Rajah and Rani, their two rescued cats.

            Prize winning mystery writer William S. Shepard is the creator of a new genre, the diplomatic mystery, whose plots are set in American Embassies overseas. That mirrors Shepard’s own career in the Foreign Service of the United States, during which he served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Bordeaux, in addition to five Washington tours of duty.

            His books explore this rich, insider background into the world of high stakes diplomacy and government. He evokes his last Foreign Service post, Consul General in Bordeaux, in Vintage Murder, the first of the series of four “diplomatic mysteries.” The second, Murder On The Danube, now also available on Kindle, mines his knowledge of Hungary and the 1956 Revolution. In Murder In Dordogne Robbie Cutler, his main character, is just married, but their honeymoon in the scenic southwest of France is interrupted by murders. The most recent of the series, The Saladin Affair, has Cutler transferred to work for the Secretary of State. Like the author, Cutler arranges trips on Air Force Two – now enlivened by serial Al Qaeda attempts to assassinate the Secretary of State.

Buy Link:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Suzanne Rock

"You have no idea what Bathin’s power is like.” There, she thought she could move a finger. Just a few more minutes…

“You have no idea what my power is like.” He ran his thumb over her cheek. “I appreciate your worry, but believe me, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Bathin won’t know what hit him.” He leaned in close, so close that they were almost touching.

A tendril of heat rippled through her system and Arianne’s gaze slid down to his mouth. “You’ll all die.”

“Why do you care?”

She swallowed and forced her gaze back up to meet his. Why did she care? Maybe it was because she had been watching this man for almost a year and felt this strange connection with him. No, it was more than that. She felt responsible for him. The queen believed that, despite his recklessness, Darien was special and needed protecting. It was part of the reason why she sent Cai undercover, for protection as much as information gathering.

“How do you know so much about me, hmm?” He lowered his gaze, letting it settle on her lips as first one, then the other twin slipped through the portal. “Were you spying on me?” He twisted his lips into a half-smile as he dragged his gaze back up to meet hers. “Because, darlin’, all you needed to do was to come up and talk to me, and I would have given you exactly what you wanted.”

The implication was clear. Darien wasn’t talking about the deamhan stone, but of something more sexual and intimate.

Her breath caught, and she felt a fluttering low in her abdomen. “What I want is for you to go back to Boston where you belong.” She caught a glimpse of Cai’s disapproving stare as he passed her. He shook his head, a silent reprimand and reminding her to not stir up trouble. She watched as Urian and Cai each took a deep breath, then stepped through the portal in turn. Why did Cai want her to forsake her orders and let them go through? What was going on?

“Well, we’re not going back to Boston,” Darien said. “Not until I get what I came for. So you’re just going to have to settle for this.”

Before she could speak, before she could even think, he captured her lips in a hot, searing kiss.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What If the Problem is in Our Pages?

REVIEW ANGST – PART II  or  What if the Problem is Not in the Stars but Within Our Pages?

                                                                          by Robert W. Walker

Now if the review has any legitimate gripes, in Legacy publishing it is near impossible to get a correction even on a second printing, but if you have put the book out yourself as an Independent author on Kindle or elsewhere, I would take the book down and address these issues. Issues such as misuse of their for there all over the place, or your for you're all over the place, or passive constructions, all tell no show, etc. At which time, you need to hire a guy like me who can repair all the damage at 3 bucks a page.

Pattern errors exist in every author's repertoire, especially new authors. Example for some subconscious reason all your characters' names are Charlie, Tommie, Billie, Sadie....every character's name ends in ie rhyme. This is not what a writing coach/professor like yours truly is talking about when I speak of Sound and Sense. You fail if your characters are all named Tom, Dick, and Harry if all the others are Rham, Rick, and Larry, or let us say Pam, Tam, Jam, Ram, Damn, Lamb, Crain, Blain, bada-bing, but as the author, you never see such flagrantly bad problems as twenty five uses of the word WAS on page one. Or there is a huge overuse of prepositional phrases, or worse yet pronoun proliferation, etc., etc. Many ways to sink a book before she is even launched. Bottom line is to get as many alpha and beta readers as you can find, rewrite as often as you can, and realize that Writing is Rewriting.

Brief bio for Robert W. Walker:


Award-winning author, ROBERT W. WALKER has been a citizen of Charleston, West Virginia five years and lives with his wife and four stepchildren in the Capitol City. Rob created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005.  He has since written his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008).  This history-mystery hybrid straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune,  which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!”   Rob’s current work is Dead On and a 3-part historical thriller ebook entitled Children of Salem. Rob is also working on PlagueShip Titanic, a re-structuring of the Titanic story which attempts to explain why the captain intentionally sent the ship to the bottom of the North Atlantic. You can find Rob at , , and

Rob Walker

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Authorsday: Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

Getting to know Author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

What drew you to the subject of On the Choptank Shores?

I’ve always been a romantic, and writing a love story just seemed a natural outgrowth of that personality trait. But I’ve also always been a strong supported of religious freedom, and get very angry at Bible thumpers who believe it is all right to subjugate women based on biblical text, which they have a tendency to take out of context.

On the Choptank Shores addresses both these things. First of all, it is a love story. The love between a young wife (Grace) and her decidedly middle-aged husband (Otto), and the love of a big sister for her abused baby sister (Miriam). It is the story of the love for an aging, grief-stricken father (Luther) who is spiraling into a dark world of insanity, and the love of a kind and benevolent God whom Grace knows must exist, despite the crazed ravings of her father, who paints a picture of a vengeful, angry God as he spouts biblical verse to defend his abuse of both Grace and little Miriam. It is a story of the land on which they live, and the power of Mother Nature. Most of all, it is a story of love conquering all.

What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I think by far my greatest strength is setting description. Setting always plays a pivotal role in my novels. In On the Choptank Shores, the river flowing through the Eastern Shore of Maryland, has a quiet strength, but when pushed, can becoming a raging storm. Grace, the main character in the book, has that same inner strength. She just doesn’t realize it until she, too, is pushed. The river becomes a metaphor for Grace; at times, they are one and the same. I think my descriptions of the river are among the best in the book. This is one of my favorites:

The full moon cast a soft glow across the river like a comfortable shawl, gently caressing oyster boats bobbing to the rhythm of the evening tide. As fishermen motored slowly away from the pier, the water exploded with the bright green sparks of luminescent algae in their wake. Constellations mirrored in the water glowed like a thousand candles flickering on the waves.

The river was the heartbeat of the eastern shore. A living organism, she pulsed in synchronized harmony with the people who lived along her shores, people who depended on her as a child depends on its mother.

What’s your favorite writing quote?

Tony Morrison wrote, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I like that one a lot. But my favorite one is more humorous, by E.L. Doctrow: “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

What authors do you admire?

There are so many! I love Willa Cather, for her strong yet stark settings, and her heroines, who tend to be the same. Jose Saramago, the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author, whose Death With Interruptions is the finest book I have ever read. Mark Twain, for both his hilarious wit and his keen insight and sharp remarks on the social values of his time.

More recently, I love Malcolm R. Campbell’s fantasy adventure novels, The Sun Singer and Sarabande, for both their strong storylines and characters and the books’ spiritual undertones.  I think Ramey Channell’s Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge and Patricia Damery’s Snakes two of the finest novels of 2010. Melinda Clayton wrote a beautiful novel about love and understanding overcoming hatred and intolerance in Appalachian Justice. I could go on and on, but I won’t!

What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

I’m going to take the word “things” literally and assume that doesn’t include people or pets or other living creatures. Let’s see: I’d want my Kindle, fully loaded with every book on the planet so I’d never run out of things to read. A generator to create electrical power, so I could keep the Kindle charged. And a good pocket knife. You can do a lot with a good pocket knife. If you allowed me five, I’d add a box of writing materials that magically never ran low, and a cook stove with a never-ending propane tank. Although, without a pot or pan to cook in, that might not do me a lot of good.

What is your favorite word?

Quirky! My friends say I’m the salmon who swims downstream, not up.  If there’s a tree, I’ll climb it. A rock, I’ll scramble up  it. A creek, I’ll splash in it. I love my tattoos; I paint my toenails fire engine red. When our neighborhood coyotes howl, I tend to howl back. I once called a rattlesnake we saw “precious” and named a  tomato horned worm “Spike.”  If that doesn’t make me quirky, I don’t know what does! Yes, I think “quirky” is a fabulous word!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My husband and I try to spend as much time outdoors as we can. We love to go for hikes up in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, near our home in suburban Los Angeles, or, a little farther away, at Joshua Tree National Park, or the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs. If we have time, we enjoy escaping to the Sierras to camp, especially in our favorite national park, Kings Canyon. We love going to the ocean and exploring the tide pools. Growing up in farm county, in the Midwest, tide pools and everything else having to do with the ocean just fascinates me. We have a close circle of good friends we enjoy spending time with, and we have a blended family with two adult children each; we like spending time with them. Most of all, though, I like to read. I read a lot.

Who is your greatest cheerleader?

Unquestionably, my husband. No matter what we may have planned, no matter what he may want us to do with our time, he always makes sure I put my writing first. He makes sure my writing space is clean and comfortable. He walks our dog, or fixes me lunch, or tends to whatever needs tending in order to give me the time to work. He’s a classical guitarist, so he also spends a lot of time practicing while I write. It’s wonderful, listening to beautiful guitar music in the background while I am working.

But you know, my publisher, Kimberlee Williams of Vanilla Heart Publishing, is a pretty good cheerleader, too. I was very sick following surgery that didn’t go well last winter. I got very depressed, and almost gave up writing. Kimberlee gave me the space I needed, when I needed it, but when I was ready to get back into the swing of things she was right there, ready to help me in any way she could. Not many writers can say that about their publishers. It’s a pretty terrific company, Vanilla Heart is.

Where do you write?

My husband and I , along with my college-aged daughter, live in a tiny little cottage in the hills above the San Gabriel valley. Our house is only 800 square feet; not much room for three people, three cats, and a very large dog! But tacked onto the back of the cottage is this ramshackle porch-like room. We call it the milk room, because it reminds me of the room on my granddaddy’s farm that he used to call by that name (although I don’t know why; it’s where the freezer was, and they stored cases of Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper out there, but never any milk that I remember). My room is tiny, maybe six feet wide by fifteen feet long. The floor has a two-inch slant; I have the right side of my desk propped up on a couple old ARCs (advance review copies) from my first book. I struggle to keep my chair from rolling downhill and crashing into the wall as I write.

Uncomfortable as that sounds, it really isn’t! There’s always a beautiful breeze up here in the hills, so except during the worst summer heat waves, the milk room stays cool. I have a magnificent view of the San Gabriel Valley, and the mountains beyond, and since I draw so much inspiration from nature in my work, the view is an absolute gift. Sometimes, I can look out the window and see mule deer, or coyotes, passing through. It’s inspiring.


I have artwork on the walls: my collection of masks from around the world, and a couple of bark paintings from Mexico. My dog is usually underfoot; at least a couple of the three cats usually is around, too. I love my milk room.

Since you have multiple books published, do you have any advice for writers struggling to publish their first?

Yes, I do. First, study your craft. People tend to think they can just decide to write a book and sit down to write one. But writing a book is an art, just like playing the piano and painting a masterpiece are art forms. Yo-Yo Ma didn’t sit down at the cello one day and decide to play, and produce exquisite music. Picasso didn’t decide one day to paint and produce The Guitarist. They studied their craft. Writers need to do that, too.

Second, get your book professionally edited. I’ve seen so many books full of errors because writers had their Aunt Frieda or their next-door neighbor edit for them, even though neither had a bit of editing experience. Editors know things your aunt and your neighbor don’t know about what a good manuscript looks like. They can find mistakes you probably didn’t even know were mistakes. Don’t skimp on this step.

Third, don’t give up just because your book isn’t accepted at first. I used to teach a fiction writing workshop at the community college level, and I would tell my students, publishing a book is like running into a wall at full speed. When you hit that wall, you knock yourself out and bloody your nose in the process. But if you pick yourself up, wipe the blood from your face, and say, “Gee, that felt good! I think I’ll do it again!” you’ll eventually knock that wall down. The same goes for getting your book published. If you’ve studied your craft and had your book professionally edited, and if, of course, your story is any good, you will find a publisher.

Author Bio

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, short stories, the new combo-writing book containing her two books especially for writers, and a photo/essay collection reflecting on the natural world, She was lead editor for Vanilla Heart Publishing’s 2010 Nature’s Gifts anthology, and a 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee. An ardent outdoorswoman with a deep reverence for nature, when she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains, camping in the Sierras, splashing in tidepools, and fighting the urge to speak in haiku.

Book Blurb

The tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father, Luther, a zealot preacher on a downward spiral toward insanity. Otto Singer charms Grace with his courtship and devotion to his brother, Henry. But after their marriage, Otto is unable to share with Grace the terrible secret he has kept more than twenty years. Otto believes he is responsible for a tragedy that claimed the life of a young woman and left Henry severely brain damaged. Then tragedy strikes just when Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Can Grace find the strength to save her sister—her husband—them all?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Writing Process by Kaye George

Our Writing Process

I noticed some differences and some similarities in the writing process when ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY, an anthology I'm included in, was recently published through Dragonfire Press which one of the authors runs.

For my own work, I proceed my own pace. I have deadlines, but if they're not set by my publisher, they're self-imposed. For our anthology, we took on some of the duties of a publisher by deciding when we wanted to publish and by making our own schedule. Not knowing how long each stage would take, we set arbitrary deadlines, but ended up meeting them pretty much right on the nose--much to our surprise.

There's editing to do for the professional editors in both cases. Most of the marketing is self-promotion in both cases. But there were other people to coordinate with for every step, for the anthology. Also for the anthology, we chose our own title, text for the cover, got our own blurbs, did our own cover, and are responsible for distribution.

Here's how this whole thing came about. I belong to a writers' group that meets twice a month. We call ourselves All Things Writing. We don't critique each other on an ongoing basis, as my mystery writing group does. Instead, our habit is to spend the first part of the meeting doing a timed writing exercise to a prompt. When the time is up, we can choose to read what we've come up with or not. Since we usually do read our own stuff, we get to know each others' writing styles. This group has dwindled to three faithful members in the last year. Some writers have quit writing, some have acquired jobs that prevent their attendance, but we three keep showing up like faithful musketeers.

I should mention that there is no genre basis for this group. We're just a few people who live in and around Austin and who love to write. The three of us have each achieved our big dream in 2011, publication of a novel. Mine is a mystery (CHOKE), Mary Ann's is dark urban fantasy (NEPHILIM), and Steve's is a unique take on zombies (THE ZOMBIE MONOLOGUES). We've noticed, over time, that we all three like to write dark fiction, usually with some humor thrown in.

So, seeing that our styles somewhat mesh, one day we decided to put some short stories together and see what we came up with. Several of these were the eventual results of our writing exercises. We were pleased with what we put together and had them professionally edited by Ramona DeFelice Long (who really straightened my stories out!). One member, who we had initially thought would contribute, backed out of the group several months ago. That made us a little short on the desired word count, so Mary Ann and I added some reprints to bring us up to snuff.

Steve took charge of the cover and paperback version, I did the ebook versions, Mary Ann got us online, we all helped with the last edits, and we're all helping with the publicity. We're very happy with the result and pleased that people are actually buying it!

If you'd like to try our darkish tales, here's where the book is available:

It will also soon be available from Untreed Reads.

BIO: Kaye George, an Agatha nominated short story writer,
is the author of CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery
(Mainly Murder Press), as well as A PATCHWORK OF
STORIES, a collection of her previously published works,
and THE BAVARIAN KRISP CAPER, (Untreed Reads).
FISH TALES: The Guppy Anthology contains her story,
"The Truck Contest". She serves as President of the
Guppies chapter of Sister in Crime, reviews for "Suspense
Magazine", and writes for several newsletters and blogs.
She, her husband, and a rescued feral cat named Agamemnon
live together in Texas, near Austin. and 


A compilation of horror, mystery, and urban fantasy short stories by Austin authors with a distinctly dark side.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Melodie Campbell


Chapter 16

Kendra gasped. "How did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"I just saw you walk right through that wall!"

"Oh, that," I said, brushing myself off. "Look, sweetie, not to change the subject, but I don't have a whole lot of time. I―"

"And who is that?"

Kendra gaped at Logan, who stood at least a foot taller than her. He, in turn, gazed down at her as though he'd just discovered the meaning of life, the universe and everything that might possibly be in it.

"Damn," I mumbled. "Logan, this is Kendra. Kendra, Logan. Now that we're all introduced, I really have to hustle."

Kendra's eyes widened. "Is he for real?"

"Yes, yes, he's real," I said, trying to speed things along. "He's a cousin of my fiancé."

Kendra stared at me, mouth open. "He's Ivan's cousin?"

"Not Ivan. Sargon." I sighed. "It's complicated."

She crossed her arms. "I can follow."

As a very curious Logan watched us, I sucked in air. "Okay, here goes. I was married to Ivan the first day I got there, but then I got kidnapped. Gareth's land doesn't recognize the laws of Huel, but if you have sex with the same guy three times in one day in this place, you're considered pledged. So I'm kind of married to Gareth too. Except then Ivan got banished―long story, not nice―and now I'm affianced to the King."

"The King?" Kendra frowned. "You're hitched to two of these bozos and engaged to another?"

"Kind of. It wasn't my fault."

"What is this, 'bozos'?" Logan asked.

I ignored him. But I had an idea.

"Kendra," I said, lowering my voice, "I have to whip home for my vet bag. It would be easier without Logan along. Can you keep him here? I'll only be twenty minutes."

"Sure, but how?" She could hardly take her eyes off Logan.

"I don't know." I said. "Flirt with him or something. But don't let him leave this classroom. Got it?"

She gulped. "Okay."

I ran to the desk and grabbed my car keys. As I reached the exit, I heard Kendra say, "So…is that a broadsword on your belt or are you just glad to see me?"

ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (No. 2 on bestseller list, Aug 2011! (fantasy, futuristic)

Do you like comic time travel?

Meet Rowena Revel!

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent.  Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!”  Midwest Book Review

“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum”  Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine

Warning:  This book is not a sweet romance.  It is a sexy, funny, rollicking adventure with a spunky heroine and the medieval men of her dreams!  Continues in Book 2.

Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at,,,, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at

View trailer and read opening scene at

Melodie Campbell got her start as a comedy writer, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her work ‘wacky’ and ‘laugh out loud funny’.  She has over 200 publications, including 100 humor shorts, 30 short stories and one novel.  She has received five awards for fiction, and is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marja McGraw on Her Writing Process

The Writing Process

I write two series, so I alternate between the series. First, I decide what type of storyline I want. Next I have to mentally find my “voice” for whichever series I’m working on. Then I sit down and write. That sounds really simple.

This is where I laugh hysterically. I love writing. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had while doing a job. However, there’s nothing simple about it.

While I’m writing a book belonging to one of the series, I keep my eyes and ears open for story ideas for the other series. I may hear something on the news, or a friend might share something that happened to her or a friend. Sometimes an idea just comes to me. For instance, I’ve always wanted to write a story about a ghost town, and Old Murders Never Die was born.

Once I know what the storyline will be, I begin researching, which is a necessity. It might be ghost towns, or World War II history, or even something as simple as songs or mode of dress for a specific era.

So, armed with ideas and knowledge, I look at timelines. Some stories will evolve over a few days, and some will take a month or more. This is when I pull out a calendar and start making notes. I don’t want to have three days’ worth of action take place in 24 hours.

It’s finally time to sit down and start writing. Can I find a hook? I’d like the story to grab the reader’s attention right from the beginning, but I have to admit this doesn’t always happen. Every once in a while I have to build up to an event.

Okay, so I begin typing. My mind is going ninety miles an hour, but unfortunately my typing isn’t quite as fast. I slow my thoughts down and the story begins to make more sense. It begins to take shape.

I have two friends who critique and proofread my work, and I do the same for theirs. We exchange two chapters at a time, and it works well for us. When they return my chapters I go through and “fix” any problems they’ve found.

I have to admit that by the last couple of chapters, I’m really anxious to finish the book. I’ve read and reread the words so many times that I don’t recognize errors because I know what the story is supposed to say, and that’s how I read it. Thank goodness for friends who actually know what they’re doing. After the last chapter, I go back to the beginning and read the book straight through, repairing and changing as I read.

I’ve made this sound relatively simple, but in reality it isn’t. There are so many smaller steps in between. When my story finally goes to the publisher, it’s as clean and error free as I can make it. And then they find the things I missed and I’m back to “fixing” the story.

Next the marketing and promoting begin, but that’s a whole different subject for another day.
Sandi Webster, private investigator, is in for her greatest adventure when she and her partner, Pete, become stranded in an old ghost town inhabited by a mysterious horse-riding cowboy and some Old West murders. What better way to spend a well-earned vacation than running down old clues and searching vintage houses that haven’t been entered in over a hundred and twenty years? Bubba, Sandi’s half wolf/half Golden retriever, keeps the action moving in his own quirky way, along with a big black horse and the mysterious cowboy.

Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. While filling the role of a single parent, she worked in both civil and criminal law for 15 years, state transportation for another 17 years, and most recently for a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

McGraw also wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include A Well-Kept Family Secret, Bubba’s Ghost, Prudy’s Back! and The Bogey Man, all part of the Sandi Webster series. Bogey Nights is due out soon, and this is the first in a new series, The Bogey Mysteries.

She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.