Sunday, February 27, 2011

Author Interview/Review: Cole Alpaugh

Cole Alpaugh's newspaper career began in the early 80s, starting with small daily papers in Maryland and Massachusetts, where his stories won national awards. His most recent job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where his "true life" essays included award-winning pieces on a traveling rodeo and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor that was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also did work for two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Thailand and Cambodia. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he also coaches his daughter's soccer team.

What inspired you to write this book? Years ago, I’d taken my oldest daughter to see a traveling circus. It was an old, broken down troupe with license plates from down south, but they had an enormous African elephant with a headdress made of pink ostrich feathers. We were walking through the maze of animal cages when we noticed a bird had landed on the elephant’s head and was picking at the feathers. The elephant was prodding it with the tip of her trunk. My six-year-old daughter was amazed by the interaction, and we stood watching the bird trying to steal feathers, perhaps for its nest, while the elephant tried gently coaxing it away. Then, one of the circus workers walked up and, for no apparent reason, cracked the elephant across the side of its head with a long wood bullhook. The bird flew away, and the elephant began to cry, as did my daughter. It made me want to tell the story.

I spent a good chunk of the 1980's and early '90's as a war correspondent for two Manhattan picture agencies. Maybe a glamorous sounding gig when trying to pick up girls in bars, but it was sweaty, awful work most of the time. For what came out to be about a buck an hour, I went on at least a hundred patrols, basically trying to get shot at on three continents. If the patrol you latched onto got into a firefight, you might make four bucks an hour from photo sales. We learned to supplement our income by shooting feature pictures during downtime. Some of the most amazing people are traveling performers in third world countries. In Asia, the circus is revered, even the ragtag bands crisscrossing the most impoverished regions of Burma, Vietnam, and Cambodia. My story -- BEAR -- is set along the New Jersey shore, but most of the roustabouts and performers were based on these people who made their way from village to village, often sending kids ahead to scout whether there'd been any recent fighting. In BEAR, I tried to convey the obvious pride carried by these folks, from the aerialists to the congenital twins in the "freaks of nature" tents. I've seen real magic, the transformation that happens when an eighty-year-old man takes off his rags and puts on a glittering, handmade costume and leads a bear in a dance.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I suppose it's a message about hope. How important hope is, yet all the dangers that come from opening yourself up to it. In
GARP, John Irving wrote about the sinister Under Toad lurking just beneath the surface. I suppose I'm just another writer who stole a bit of the Under Toad for my characters to deal with. But in every traveling circus I've encountered, sad stories easily outnumbered the good. One of my roustabouts in BEAR spent years perfecting an awesome defense against things that sneak up and cause pain. He learned to sit real quiet and still -- until he became invisible. If they can't see you, nothing can get at you.

As you know, I've had the pleasure of reading your work and feel there's a unique quality to your writing. How would you describe your writing style/voice? Thank you! Well, I had a tough time coming up with a family-friendly passage for readings. I was a little surprised when I noticed how often I used the word fuck and how often my characters fight and piss on each other. In some countries, whacking someone with your shoe is the ultimate display of contempt. I guess those people have never been pissed on.

You wear many hats--husband, father, coach, photographer, writer. Do you plan to make a long-term career out of writing novels? Would you care to buy five thousand copies of BEAR after this little talk? When my now 10-year-old was born, we moved to our vacation home full-time. My wife, Amy, left her job as a bio-chemist, and I went from staff photographer to freelance. We
simplified and downsized our lives so we could concentrate on things more important than paying a huge mortgage. Writing is incredibly satisfying and provides a daily dose of validation. It's the same feeling at the end of soccer practice, when I huddle up my eighteen girls and everyone puts a muddy hand in the middle. I hope to do both until I'm really old. Uh, oh, there's that word hope. I should edit it out.

What's next? My favorite story -- THE TURTLE-GIRL FROM EAST PUKAPUKA -- has entered the query-go-round. I'd love for it to find a home. It's about a tsunami that sweeps across a remote island in the South Pacific, the lone survivor being a young girl clinging to the back of an old sea turtle she'd been caring for. It's a story about trying to find the way back home. There's cannibalism, Fijian coke thieves, and a drunken salvage boat captain named Jesus, who hums Verdi's Rigoletto while blissfully peeing into the wind. To sum up what's next: more piss and hope, I suppose.
You can visit Cole at his website. The Bear In a Muddy Tutu is available in print, on Kindle, or ebook.

A deftly written story driven by raw and vivid characters and rich with evocative language and colorful descriptions. With every page another layer is peeled back as this fascinating, magical tale unfolds--sad or humorous, but always thoughtful. Alpaugh's writing does not rely on cheap tricks or predictable plot points, but slowly pulls you in and compels you to stick around for a while. Rest assured, in The Bear in a Muddy Tutu, you will constantly be surprised by what happens next.
--review by Rhiannon Ellis

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grammar is Sexy Saturday: Breaking The Rules

But I shouldn’t break the rules! Yet I really want to. And, sometimes, I do it just to be naughty.

See how I did that? I broke the don’t start a sentence with a conjunction rule three times. I also used some adverbs and passive phrasing, but it’s early in the a.m., so sue me.

Some grammar rules are okay to break, as long as it’s done in moderation. Using a conjunction to start a sentence…

• can add emphasis
• can eliminate a run-on
• can prevent a sentence from sounding too choppy



Esther sighed and grabbed her backpack from the table before slinging it over her shoulder. Class started in twenty minutes, and she promised her mom she wouldn’t skip again. Those backstabbing girls in homeroom broke promises all the time. But that wasn’t Esther. Unlike her former friends, she kept her word.

Eliminate a run-on

A bus whizzed by as Esther started the fourteen-minute walk to her private school. Her uniform’s blazer offered little protection from the wind that whipped the lapels against her neck, but she instinctively pulled it tighter around her chest. There could’ve been a foot of snow on the ground, a blizzard, or temperatures reaching Antarctic lows and she still would’ve walked. Because the last week she rode the bus had been the worst of her life--those stupid girls! When she’d told them about the one bad thing she’d ever done, they’d promised not to tell.

Prevent choppiness

Her backpack slipped from her shoulder and fell to the floor when she saw the awful word spray-painted in red across her locker. A nun approached, glanced at the accusation, then at Esther. The teacher shook her head and kept walking. Did everyone know? There had to be someone—other than her mom--who didn’t think she was a slut for making one mistake. But who? Certainly not that self-righteous nun or Esther’s so-called friends, that much was obvious.

So go ahead and break the rules--just don't make a habit out of it. Consider it a tool you can use a limited amount of times, and pick those times wisely.

Keep Writing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Author Ami Blackwelder

Ami Blackwelder is a forbidden romance writer in the paranormal and historical romance genre. Growing up in Florida, she went to UCf and in 1997 received her BA in English and teaching credentials. She travelled overseas to teach in Thailand, Nepal, Tibet, China and Korea. Thailand is considered her second home now. She has always loved writing and wrote poems and short stores since childhood; however, her novels began when she was in Thailand.

Having won the Best Fiction Award from the University of Central Florida (Yes, The Blair Witch Project University;), her fiction From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return was published in the on campus literary magazine: Cypress Dome and remains to this day in University libraries around the country. Later, she achieved the Semi-Finals in a Laurel Hemingway contest and published a few poems in the Thailand’s Expat magazine, and an article in the Thailand’s People newspaper. Additionally, she has published poetry in the Korea’s AIM magazine, the American Poetic Monthly magazine and Twisted Dreams Magazine.

Be sure to stop by Ami's website!

Eloquent Enraptures and author Ami Blackwelder proudly presents the six part science fiction/paranormal romance saga! Like nothing you have ever experienced!

Shifters of 2040:

“I’m pregnant. Her eyes peered over the edge of the cloth and confronted her mirrored reflection with that truth. I’m pregnant…by a SHIFTER. Oh, god!”

In “The Shifters of 2040,” Scientist Melissa Marn finds her world swirling on its axis with that one revelation. Shifters — a sentient alien species of light — look to Earth for refuge. In doing so, both shifters and humans are forced to confront prejudice, betrayal, adversity and oppression.

Methodical scientist, Melissa Marn, and her coworker, Dr. Bruce Wilder, conduct experiments on the shifters. Through her pregnancy, she becomes more compassionate and humane and finds herself defending the very species she’s supposed to eradicate.

One of the hybrids, Diamond, falls in love with Keenan, a soldier trained to kill her. Between the four, the reader is led from conflict to resolution, from despair to hope, from loneliness to love.

Much of the book’s originality lies in the shifters, common characters in science fiction, but whose origins are rarely explained. In this series, their alien DNA allows them to metamorphose into not just wolves, but a variety of animals. As the plot unfolds, the shifters discover they can have children with humans — hybrids.

Strengths of the novel include the complex characters, its writing style of poetic prose and rich description, and the well developed, thought-provoking, yet highly entertaining plot.
This fast paced book will appeal to the young adult and adult market. It fits nicely into the paranormal romance and science fiction romance genres and would make a great movie, a captivating TV series and an intriguing video game.

Readers will enjoy the fresh approach and original concept of the world thirty years from now, and will find the characters come to life in their minds long after they read “The End.”

Purchase options at her website.

Character Interview: This interview will be conducted for the characters of the Shifters of 2040. Scientist Melissa Marn and the hybrid Diamond.

Do you always love what you can’t have?

Melissa Marn: The Smithsonian, Bruce Wilder. I guess I do. But my life is controlled by the SCM now, by my father and General Raul. They decided this fate for me. If I had my way, I’d run off with Bruce somewhere far away...
Diamond: I fell in love with the enemy on accident. I didn’t plan to love Keenan, the military soldier sworn to kill me and my kind. He didn’t plan to love me. We just happened.

If you were a quality?
Melissa Marn: The River. I am methodical like waves. I do the job needed to be done, whatever the cost of erosion, and flow continually. Close to the Earth, but I am cold, because the SCM coaxed me since fifteen, and trained me since twenty-five.
Diamond: The Hawk. This is my other half, the beast inside of me, that the humans fear. I fly above the world and watch. Silent, and steady, but strong.

If you were a flaw?
Melissa Marn: Ice. I am cold, and hard. And too easily I melt and conform to the shape I am enclosed in, that prisoner the SCM has built around my life.
Diamond: The Heart. I feel too much. Emotions explode inside of me, and I sense my heart will be the end of me one day. If I could only feel less...

Do you always walk on the moral slippery slope?
Melissa Marn: It’s my job! It’s all I know. And if I didn’t do it, someone else would. What then? I know the shifters are more than the SCM tells us they are. They must feel something. But what? My curiosity and scientific training drives me. I have to find answers to my questions. I have to perform my duty!
Diamond: But I love him! I know being with him draws danger to my kind, to my family. My sister. But he would never betray me, willingly. I know he loves me too. And though I am sworn to stay away from him, from all SCM, my heart dominates my head.

Favorite food?
Melissa Marn: The Italian restaurant Little Milan. Bruce and I have shared many discussions, heated arguments, and romantic memories there.
Diamond: Mice...I am half hawk.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Grammar Is Sexy Saturday: Working With Editors

Special Edition of Grammar Is Sexy Saturday!
I promised to blog about my own experience working with editors, and I'm making good on that promise today. I have worked with two editors from two different houses. There was a huge difference between these experiences because one book was written a year earlier than the other. This was an eye-opener for me--not to mention a major confidence boost-- to see how much my writing has improved over several months.

Most writers admit they have bad habits. I can compartmentalize my stupidity into a handful of themes.

Word misusage:I'm guilty of it. Frankly, I'm a bit paranoid now, too. How many words have I used incorrectly over the years in everyday speech? How often do I do it now, and how stupid do I appear to others? Eeek!

The good news is I am generally on the right track with these misused words and only manage to miss the mark by a centimeter (or two). The bad news is these were ALL words I didn't bother to look up or double check because they were common, which makes me feel that much more moronic.

Advice: Look up ALL the words.

More practical advice: Look up anything you're iffy on.

Slang/uncommon uses of normal words: I have a couple of examples.

I used feining/feening in my paranormal romance to describe a moment my MC experiences an unexplained strong craving. I'm not sure of the spelling because, apparently, feining/feening isn't a real word. Sure, Urban Dictionary says it is, but my editor was like, huh? I explained the meaning to her (probably making myself look like a crackhead in the process for being privy to such lingo) but ended up opting for "hankering."

Another example of me looking like a dumb-dumb was my use of "disappeared" as a transitive verb, as in "The mafia disappeared the bodies." <-- not an actual line from my book

I was ready to fight for this one because I've heard it used this way. I wasn't "married to it" so why cause possible confusion for readers?

Advice: If your editor wants you to kill a word, just do it. It doesn't mean you have to go with his/her suggested replacement, but press delete and pick another option. You won't miss it. I promise.

Missing/extra words: This one bugs me me, and I'm not sure I've improved over over the past couple of years years. Maybe I need glasses.

I no advice.

Pathetic Fallacy: When I saw this in my contemporary manuscript not once, but twice, I have to admit my feelings were hurt. I thought I was being called a name or WAY harshly criticized! Oh, the brutality!

"Geez, that was mean. She could've just said she didn't like it."



*gets the brilliant idea to Google it*

Aha! A pathetic fallacy is the use of weather to set the tone of a scene. I was doing this without realizing it and setting a tone inappropriate for the mood of my characters. It took some simple revising to fix the problem, and I wasn't being called a pathetic phallic-something. Yay!

Advice: Don't overreact to editor comments. Google it, get a second opinion, ask yourself if it really matters anyway. Writers are sensitive; we have to be. But try to keep your head in business mode when reviewing editor comments. It's not personal. They obviously like you and your writing because they offered you a contract.

Laziness: I love research. It's one of my favorite things about writing. I sometimes pick locations or topics I know nothing about to include in my stories just so I can research them. Call me a geek, but it's fun!

In one of my stories, I gave a character an antebellum home. That means the house was built before the Civil War. I'm not sure why I did this. I think it was to add personality to the house...maybe I just wanted to use the word antebellum. Who knows.

Problem was I failed to research antebellum structures and made some enormous errors when describing the exterior and interior layout of the home. Fortunately, my editor caught those errors and pointed them out to me. Easy fix. I simply deleted "antebellum" from one line and voilĂ ! Miss Thang's house is old...but not that old.

Advice: Do your research, even if it's for something that seems relatively minor. The internet puts the whole world at your fingertips. Explore it and infuse your story with authentic details.

Misplaced Modifiers: Can you say ugh? When my editor pointed out this grammatical error to me over and over again, I freaked out. I rushed to open other manuscripts and scan for dangling modifiers (not as sexy as it sounds). I found none. Whew! This is a bad habit I'd unknowingly nipped in the bud.

Sadly, I failed to notice all the big, floppy dangling modifiers when editing the first MS, despite having overcome that bad habit. See how we miss things even when we know they're wrong?

Advice: Continue to brush up on the many rules of grammar. No one expects perfection--not even editors--but aim for it anyway. Utilize betas of all types--those who read and those who line-edit.

What are some of your bad habits?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rhiannon's Writing Space

3600 square feet of house and not a single space to call my own. My husband has his man cave, and my kids have their bedrooms. My stepdaughter, who doesn't live here but visits, has her own bedroom. I technically have a bathroom that's mine, but it gets used by others. Besides, if I'm going to claim a special space as my own, I don't want it to include a toilet. Just sayin'...

Couple the above information with the fact I spend most of my free time on the computer, and it makes sense that I create Rhiannon's Writing Space, right? I thought so.

I originally planned to get a small, Ikea-style desk with a glass top and squeeze it into a corner somewhere. I'd place a small 'puter on it, maybe a reed diffuser for ambience, and call it mine. You see, I'm terribly cheap. Not because I don't like nice things; I do. Spending large amounts of money (especially on myself) makes me nervous. Which is why I usually tell my husband when I want something expensive because he has the shopping skills of a gold-digging trophy wife whose ancient husband just kicked the bucket and willed her four generations of obscene wealth.
"Honey, I think I'd like to have a desk to write, and I think it should go in the family room where I can access it freely."

Done deal. Two days later, I have a cozy little setup (see above pic) that's all mine! Well, sort of. I've permitted my 5 year old to play games on it, and my hubby can use it if he doesn't feel like going down to the man cave. I'm nice like that.

But it's still mine! I can sit in my leather chair, at my new desk, and feel like a legitimate writer, like a pro. Look at me! My writing environment is professional therefore so am I. See how that works?

So tell me, where do you write? What are the pros and cons of your writing space, and has having your own spot made a difference in how you write?

If you don't have a writing space, would you like one? What would it look like?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Author Nora Weston

I am so pleased to welcome author and my new friend, Nora Weston. Today she shares a bit about her latest release--Guardian 2632--and talks about how she creates her fabulous characters. Nora is being very generous today by giving one lucky commenter their choice of a FREE $10 Amazon gift card OR up to $10 at the Book Depository Giveaway. Be sure to leave a comment or question for Nora--even a simple "hello" will do--to have your name entered into the drawing.

Nora Weston’s fiction and poetry slips in-between and all around science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her publishing credits include the anthologies Mind Mutations, Cyber Pulp’s Halloween 3.0, and Dark Pleasures. Other venues in print and online include; The Hacker’s Source, The Dream People, Hoboeye, Abandoned Towers, Lost in the Dark, Sputnik 57, Soul Engravings, and Decompositions. Recently, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Worlds Within–Worlds Beyond, Trapeze Magazine, and Four and Twenty published her work. Melange Books has accepted The Twelfth Paladin for a May 2011 release. Nora has had the pleasure of reaching people through the airwaves on radio stations throughout the US, and episodes can be downloaded from Block Talk Radio’s show Not Picture Perfect.

Guardian 2632:

Zane Grayson, the most accomplished executive director Guardian TMF has ever seen, is breaking the law…his law against time surfing. Zane has the supreme power, in 2632, to decide which paradoxes in time need altered, or deleted, but he’s frustrated. Something, or someone, is missing from his life.

Time surfing in illegal time zones is the rush Zane can’t live without. As addictive as the Martian dust called kilred, time surfing becomes Zane’s obsession. And knowing full well if caught by the Elite Guardians, he’ll suffer an unwelcome death by Time Mercs, Zane still dives deep into trouble. Soon, he discovers a mission in 2035 left him trapped in a timehole. This timehole places him in Pittsburgh, PA in 1998, instead of home. In Pittsburgh, Zane strolls into a coffee shop to see the bewitching Julia Emerson. From that point on, his life spirals out of control as he fights to protect what he loves most.

It’s possible Zane’s future is no longer in 2632...but actually in 1998. Slip through time with Zane Grayson as Guardian 2632 reveals what he will sacrifice to save a life.

Character Boot Camp: Make Your Characters the Best They Can Be

A writer breathes life into characters by taking full control over their personalities, and for better or worse...their fate. For example, as master and commander of Zane Grayson, the protagonist in Guardian 2632, I shaped his physical attributes, intellect, emotional state, desires, dislikes, habits, and his conscience. Was he a well rounded, memorable character at this point? Heavens no! Zane shaped up to become the executive director of Guardian TMF...a time monitoring facility, because his development went through what I like to call, character boot camp.

I force all of my main characters to undergo this potentially character killing process to see if they can make the grade and stay relevant to the story. Sometimes, this applies to inanimate objects, like Zane’s super quantum computer, named Gabriel, because it needed a convincing personality. Whatever the case, characters must suffer through this ordeal to stay alive.

Here’s a smidgen of what Zane went through...

• Name Choice- Zane Grayson had several names before I finalized that one. The other names bit the dust because they sounded too soft and were commonplace.

• Physical Attributes- Zane is an accomplished soldier living in the year 2632, so his body is lean and muscular. His jet black hair dangles in front of his dark eyes that, at times, have an indigo sheen to them. His linage is a mix of European and Japanese, so that’s another detail for readers to use for their perception of him. Consider your characters’ ancestries to define their physical attributes.

• Emotional Status-Is your character determined to succeed, no matter what...and tackle the dilemma ahead? If not, can this character be the hero or heroine? If your story is devoid of heroes, still ponder about the emotional status of each character, because that will determine their actions.

• Desires, Dislikes, Habits- Take time to flesh out your characters by racking your brain with these character traits. Zane came to life as I filled him with unstoppable desire for Julia Emerson...a pastian from 1998. He is addicted to caffeine, loves Sizzlers...a rock hard candy so hot few can endure, and he’s an insomniac.

• Past-Give your characters a history by diving into their dreams, remembrances, and discuss their history in dialogue. For example, Marissa Scott...Zane’s girlfriend at the beginning of Guardian 2632, hated her military father was always on leave and he seemed to prefer it that way. A deep down ache to be cherished grew inside of her. This background check on Marissa suggests she may be obsessed with Zane because he’s a workaholic like her father, so by attaining his affection, she can fix the past.

Continue on with this character boot camp process by eliminating anything useless, and then strengthen your characters by adding to their likes/dislikes, accents, scars, musical/literary interests, educational backgrounds, etc. In addition, I suggest using flawed characters rather than characters who are the embodiment of perfection. Flawed characters are much easier to relate to, and it allows for more changes to occur throughout the story.

If you kick out everything that’s drab from the start of your character building process and recruit quirky, distinctive details about your characters...those characters will be the best they can be.

What do you do to create exceptional characters who linger in the minds of your readers long after the book is finished? Please feel free to comment and share your wonderful tips!

Thanks for reading.


Visit Nora:

Buy Guardian 2632:
Book Trailer:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grammar is Sexy Saturday: Word Misusage

I slacked off last week and didn't upload a Grammar Is Sexy Saturday post. I know, lame. I was in the midst of editing two books and finishing up another.

The good news is I finished my manuscript(go, betas, go), finished edits for Dark Wolf Protector (novella coming soon from Cobblestone Press), and am done with the first round of edits for another(Bonded In Brazil coming soon from Camel Press). Which means I should have time for some extra cool blogging stuff for the next month or so.

Coming soon: My experiences with editors/editing. You won't want to miss this one because I'll share some of my own stupidity and make fun of myself. :)

Onto the grammar stuff!

Our English language is full of homonyms--words that sound alike. We use some of these words everyday in speech and, because they sound alike, we don't realize we're misusing them...until we actually write them down.

Below is a list of homonyms that are often misused and simple directions on how to use them correctly.

Accept/Except: Accept is to receive. You accept a gift. Except is to exclude. You like all flavors of ice cream except vanilla.

Affect/Effect: Affect is to influence. A cranky baby affects my mood. Effect is a result. The anti-depressant is working, but she has awful side effects. Effect can also be used as a verb, meaning to produce. The new manager plans to effect change in his department.

Emigrate/Immigrate: Emigrate is to leave one country and move to another. Immigrate means to leave one's country and reside in another. Ha. There's a fine line here, and you're probably shaking your head. Uh, what's the dif? Emigrate is to act of leaving a home country. Immigrate is the act of entering a new country in which you plan to reside. Em=out. Im=in.

Allowed/Aloud: Allowed means permitted. Aloud means spoken (out loud).

Ascent/Assent: Ascent refers to a climb. Assent is to agree.

Your/You're: Your is the possessive form; you're means you are.

Their/There/They're: Their is the possessive form; there indicates a place; they're means they are.


Might've/Must've: <-- Say these words aloud. I know they sound like might of and must of, but they're not. Might've is might have. Must've is must have.

There are many, many more examples, but the above are homonyms I see misused all the time--I've done it myself!

You don't have to memorize all their spellings/meanings, but be aware so that you can double check your usage of them while editing.

What words--homonyms or otherwise--do you commonly misuse?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Author Interview: Lizzie T. Leaf

Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf, started life in Kansas, continued her growing years in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado. She has numerous e-Books of varying lengths and her first print novel, Struck by Lightning, won dual 2007 Beacon awards. Not a bad track record for a gal who came out of the closet with the dream to write after she turned fifty.

Her novellas at Aspen Mountain Press fall into two categories…erotic contemporary or paranormal romance in the DEAD series. She also had her first historical, Making Christmas, through the Aurora Regency line at AMP.

Beyond Magic, released through Passion in Print Press, is the first book in the Magical Love Series.

She also has a monthly column, Leaf’s Legends, debuting February 2011 for Night Owl Reviews Magazine, where she explores the worlds of myths, fantasy and the paranormal.

When not writing, traveling, reading, gardening and family consume her time.

Hi Lizzie! Tell us little about yourself.

Thank you so much for having me, Rhiannon!

Writing is a love I developed as a young girl, but like so many of us, life got in the way and I became distracted with the corporate job and raising a family. When my then husband passed away about twelve years ago, I found myself alone for the first time in my life. Even during a prior divorce, I still had two children to focus on.

Since all my children were adults with families when I faced being a widow, I had plenty of time to think and explore. Reading had continued to be my number one hobby, no matter how business life became and with time alone, the desire to write resurfaced.

Since then, I’ve had numerous novellas published and prior to Beyond Magic, my only other novel, Struck by Lightning, won the Beacon in two categories and was a finalist in several other contests. My family and current husband of seven years are my main supporters and encourage me to branch out into whatever genre I enjoy writing.

When I’m not working, I spendtime with my family, reading, traveling and meeting new people.

In fact, if any of your readers are going to attend Romantic Times 2011 Convention in April, please come up and say hello. Would love to meet you!

You have a new release. How exciting! What can you tell us about Beyond Magic?

Beyond Magic started out as an entirely different book. Originally it was to be the follow up to Struck by Lightning, but the publisher ended up closing down. The book set in my files for a couple of years and then one day I opened it and decided I could use the base,with some changes, to create a new series.

I knew I wanted some of it set in Scotland and the Cailleach idea popped into my head. Take the old crone out of her element of tending the earth and have the Powers direct her to unite lovers.

Of course, there had to be a handsome hero and that led to the creation of Ian McCabe, a cross-blood immortal. With his family gene pool, gods on his father’s side and Fae on his mother’s, he could be nothing short of gorgeous and powerful, even if he wanted to ignore his powers.

The heroine Emma would be a little older, late 30s, and with not exactly the greatest track record in the love relationship department. This makes her a bit insecure and determined to focus on her new career in tourism. She’s developed sort of a ‘who needs men’ attitude.

Between the supporting characters in Emma’s life and the godly/magical ones in Ian’s, there’s humor and major frustration to go with the love connection between the two.

Beyond Magic hit the shelves in January. How has your publishing experience been so far?

This is my first book with Passion in Print Press and I’ve found them very supportive and easy to work with. From the publisher, editor(s) and cover artist…each and every one of them has made me feel valued as an author and as an individual.

Do you have any advice for other authors with new releases?

Promote! Try and think outside the box, too. In today’s market there is a lot of competition for the reader’s attention and sometimes it takes a different approach to get noticed. Brainstorm with your friends and fellow authors if you have problems coming up with ideas, or run some of yours by them to get their feedback.

And while you’re promoting, don’t forget to write. Some days that is a challenge!

Are you working on another writing project now? If so, when can we expect to see your next book?

I’m working on the second book in the Magical Love Series. If my editor had her way she’d have it…tomorrow! But since she has to wait on me, release will probably be late summer/early fall 2011.

Where can we find you on the web?

Where can readers purchase Beyond Magic?

And Beyond Magic can be ordered at your local bookstore if they don’t have in stock.

Thank you so much, Lizzie, for stopping by. Best of luck following your dream!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Publisher Launches: Astraea Press

Astraea Press opens its virtual doors today, bringing "wholesome" romance to the masses. Their new website is up and running, and three ebooks make their debut. Nine other books are featured on their coming soon page, each with a cover more lovely and inviting than the last.

Check out Astraea Press. Buy a book or submit your own. Click the covers below to purchase from Astraea Press!


by Rebekah L. Purdy

Sixteen year old Ima Berry (pronounced I’m a) leads anything but a normal life. For starters, the ridiculous name her eccentric dad gave her is always the opening for a goodjoke. Not to mention the fact he makes his living as a supernatural investigator, which has them moving around every few months. It’s hard to hang out with new friends when she spends all her time trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot, ghosts, fairies and any other number of paranormal creatures. Unfortunately, the cases always end in disaster. That is until now.

On a whim, Ima’s father decides to move them to Point Hope, Alaska. Here, he plans to investigate the possibility of shifters amongst the Inuit tribes. Ima isn't thrilled with the move, until she meets an Inuit guy named Carsen. Not only is he hot, but he’s also a star basketball player, and he’s interested in her. Too bad his best friend, Talon, doesn't like her and takes every opportunity he can to discourage the relationship. Ima has no idea what she’s done to make him mad, but there’s no denying the strange connection between them.

As things grow more serious with Carsen, Ima uncovers a secret about him and some of the residents of Point Hope. A secret that will force her to choose between her father’s already dwindling career and her new found love. And with the knowledge of this secret comes danger…a danger that could cost them their lives.


by Kendall Evans

The day Anna Hampton's husband, Zach, was killed was the day she lost her faith. Ranger Daniel Cochran represents everything she doesn't like. Not only is he a lawman, but he's a God-fearing man like Zach. His faith might work for him, but the only thing Anna saw it do was get her husband killed. The Ranger’s presence grows more and more welcome, especially when danger lurks around every corner, and Anna is caught in the middle.


by Bri Clark

Lucien Lemione the clan leader of the feared and revered Eternals is faced with the ultimate betrayal. His second in command for two centuries has not only created the most grievous of offenses but also commissioned the creation of liquid silver. When poisoned by this toxin, an immortal suffers a fate much worse than death, frozen in an internal prison. After being wounded when found spying, he hides deep within the eerie woods that encircle the Triad Mountains. Desperate and in pain, he prays to an offended mother goddess for help. Her answer: a woman, but not just any woman. A witch.

After losing her entire coven at the hands of the Eternals, Aisleen is the last of her kind. She retreats from the world to Trinity Forest where she is giving the opportunity of a lifetime, or perhaps a test of principles. It’s there she discovers the man she heals is the Eternal that wiped out her people. Although she is bound as a healer, she could be creative in her revenge. Aisleen knows who and what Lucien is…but does not speak of it. There can be no future with Lucien for she can only be with a mortal man. Even if she wanted to be with him, can she forgive the man that caused the genocide of her people?

Lucien must act quickly for the survival of his clan is at stake. However, Aisleen’s ethereal beauty and emerald eyes keep pushing those thoughts far from his mind. Determined to find out what secret she hides, he prolongs his time with her. When his people need him most what will he choose…duty, desire, or will he make his own fate?

You can choose love but you can’t choose destiny.