Wednesday, December 4, 2013

7 Biggest Threats to Writing

Everything that can potentially stop you or distract you from writing is a danger. Those threats might seem innocuous, you might label them as unavoidable, but the truth is, if you want to make writing your career, then you’ll need to be able to recognise them so you can do something about them. Besides, when writers don’t write, they grow discontented and even insecure about their work. To avoid this, I’ve written up a list to help you spot the warning signs.

The internet: This wonderful tool is an amazing resource for research, for connecting with writers and readers, and taking a much needed break. However, as we all know, the internet can serve as a massive distraction from writing. When you say you’ll just pop on for a few minutes, and those minutes turn to hours, you know it was a mistake.

The doubts: This is perhaps the most obvious threat, but also the most devastating. Doubts can range from those little niggling doubts about whether or not others will like your story, to the massive belief you aren’t good enough to write. Whatever form they come in, they can cripple. The only way to get past them is to simply keep writing. You don’t have to keep writing the same project, but you do need to keep writing.

Family and friends: It won’t matter how supportive family and friends are, they can still distract us from our writing. This is a good thing, of course. We need family and friends. We need to enjoy their conversation, fulfil our commitments, refresh in their company. It’s not good when they become the excuse not to write.

The Muse: Yes, that pesky little critter is one of the biggest threats to writing. Why? Because all too often writers wait for him to appear before they write. If I waited for my muse I’d need to invest in a waterproof computer and I’d never get any sleep.

Illness: Yes, sometimes we are too sick to write, but I’m talking about those times you’re feeling lethargic, you might have a headache, you’re so tired you just want to collapse into a pillow. Even if you have a chronic illness, there are still ways of finding the time and energy to write. It may not be for a two hour stretch, but do what you can.

Cleaning: So what if there are a few dust bunnies hopping around? Don’t let them coax you from writing, no matter how much they tease you. You can round them up once you’ve finished your writing session.

Time: The biggest threat to writing is the lack of time. No matter how much we have, there’s never enough time. When it comes down to it, “I don’t have enough time to write,” is simply another excuse. We have to make time.

I don’t know why writers are so skilled at coming up with reasons why we can’t do the thing we love so much. Too often we put our writing last, behind the commitments, behind our homes, behind the little things that distract us, behind switching off in front of the television. Perhaps it’s because it’s easier than writing, or safer than reaching for the dream in case we fail. The way to beat the excuses, the dangers, is to recognise them for what they are, and to remember how much writing means to us.

What’s your biggest threat to your writing time?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month we post about our insecurities or offer up encouragement. Join this awesome community HERE.

We are also running an exciting giveaway. For more details, check it out HERE.

Note: I will be taking a much needed break over December so I can spend the time finishing the first draft of my NaNo novel, enjoy some family and friends, and perhaps travel a little. I’ll be back on January 8th for the next IWSG post (No, IWSG will not be posting on the first day of the new year). Please have a safe and wonderful Christmas and a brilliant New Year.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Celebrating Milestones and NaNoWriMo

Today I'm posting 4 Reasons to Celebrate Your Writing Milestones on the Insecure Writer's Support Group website. I'd love to see you over there.

This Wednesday is also the first Wednesday of the month which means it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group day again when we post about our writing insecurities!!! If you'd love to be part of this supportive community, then please sign up here. We also have a thriving Facebook Group.

After a mad scramble at the end, I completed my NaNoWriMo challenge to finish 50k words in 30 days. I'm totally thrilled!! My hubby made me a chocolate cake to celebrate. Now all I have to do is write the rest of the novel and edit it within an inch of its life. Happy times!

Don't forget to visit me over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website!

Monday, November 18, 2013

8 Benefits of Writing

I’m in the middle of the fun craziness that is NaNoWriMo at the moment. A little behind, but nothing so bad that I’m freaking out. Consequently, I bring to you today a short fun post to show some benefits to writing. Oh, and I took this photo because writing is as sweet as a strawberry.

1. Writing keeps me sane. Although some days, it doesn’t seem that way. I’m so thankful I have an outlet for storytelling otherwise my brain might implode from the pressure.

2. Writing keeps our loved ones sane. Writing makes a writer happy. If a writer isn’t happy, then the rest of her family suffers.

3. Writing helps me meet a wide variety of people I wouldn’t normally meet. I wouldn’t have met all my wonderful blogging buddies or all my other writing buddies if I wasn’t a writer.

4. Writing opens up my world of experiences. I’m not a naturally adventurous person. If I were left to my own devices, I’d be happy to stay within my close group of friends and not venture out. Writing forces me to be adventurous, to try new things, and meet new people.

5. I can create worlds and destroy them just as fast, if not quicker. A little destruction is good for the soul.

6. Writing clarifies my mind. As a writer, I have to train my thought processes so I’m able to pinpoint exactly what I want to say.

7. Writing increases my vocabulary. I may not bother if I wasn’t a writer or reader.

8. Writing gives me the courage and confidence to express myself.

What are some other benefits to writing you’ve experienced? How are your November projects coming along?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Ways NOT to Make Dinner

Today's fun post (including pictures) is brought to you by Crystal Collier. Also, a quick reminder that the Realms Faire, hosted by M Pax has started and will run from November 11-15. 

Top Ten Ways NOT to Make Dinner


Yeah, bird watching.



Image courtesy of Scott Huber
Tell me you haven't wasted an hour on one of these:


Image courtesy of Greg Verdino

Oh Lolcatz...

Youtube. 'Nuf said.


Tell me you don't play this.



Too busy eating cheese.

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Buy MOONLESS HERE or add it on Goodreads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Writer's Many Faces #IWSG

Because I'm in the middle of the frantic craziness that is NaNoWriMo (writing 50k words during the month of November), I thought I'd bring you something a little different for the Insecure Writer's Support Group: a comic strip I drew while taking a break from writing and outlining (click on the image to see it larger).

Can you relate to that aspect of the many faces of writers? Whether you're doing NaNo or not, how is your writing coming along so far this month? Hit any speed humps yet? 

If you'd like hook up with me as a NaNo writing buddy, I'm in as LynFaw.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the love-child of Alex J Cavanaugh. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Everyone is welcome and it's free to join. Sign up HERE

Our website also includes a database of databases of helpful links for writers both new and established.

I would also like to feature Melanie Schulz's new release, The Bashan Agenda.
The Newstead Trilogy is one story in three parts, The Bashan Agenda, part two, picks up right where The Newstead Project left off. Nathan's truck eventually stops in the small town of Wilson, NY, and Rachel's still in it, not that she wants to be. But she figures at least in Wilson she'll be able to have a fresh start. She forgot one thing: they can be anywhere. As Joel trains with his father, doubts begin to rise in his mind. Is he really who he claims to be- and more importantly does he have an agenda all his own? When the maps to Bashan come out, Joel realizes maybe it's not such a good idea to be putting so much trust in one man.

The Bashan Agenda is available on:
Amazon Kindle

Find Melanie on:
Blog Wattpad Facebook

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You, Too, Can Review

Today the lovely Christine Rains is here, writing about the importance of reviews:
You, Too, Can Review

Book reviews are a vital part of marketing for authors. Not only do they help you by letting you know what readers liked and didn't like about your stories, but more importantly, they help attract other readers. The big problem is getting readers to write reviews.

I've found a lot of people are intimidated by writing reviews. They're worried about their opinions being voiced out loud, so to speak, and about sounding like a gushing fangirl/boy or being too critical. But you know what? Authors love it when you gush about their books. I get giddy when I read someone rattling on about how much they love my story. I also appreciate it when someone tells me what they didn't like when done in a respectable manner.

It's not that difficult to write a review. No one is expecting a deep analysis. Just a couple of sentences about what you liked and didn't like is wonderful. Here are five quick and easy things you can mention when writing a review:

  1. Characters. Who was your favorite and why? Who was your least favorite?
  2. Plot. What was your favorite part of the story? (Please try not to give any spoilers!) Did the author move too fast or too slow? Any glaring plotholes?
  3. Setting. How was the world building? Was it realistic? Beautiful or uninspired?
  4. Style. What was the writer's style like? Was it fast-paced, poetic, or gritty?
  5. Originality. What makes this book stand out from others? Or what makes it stale?

Give it a try. You'll make a writer's day.

Do you write reviews for the books you read?

Six supernatural tenants
Living in a haunted apartment building
On a floor that doesn't exist.

Six novellas telling their tales.

A retired demon acquires a price on his head.
A werewolf is hunted by her pack.
A modern day dragonslayer misses his target.
A harpy challenges Zeus for the soul of the man she loves.
A vampire is obsessed with a young woman he can't find.
A banshee falls in love with someone who's death she has seen in a vision.
And a sweet ghost must battle a primal monster to save them all.

All the stories take place at the same time intertwining their lives together on the 13th Floor.

Includes “The Shadow,” a bonus short story.

Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Goodreads 

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has eight novellas and twenty-one short stories published.
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Also, check out the cover of Lexa Cain's up coming book, Soul Cutter. I love all things Egypt, so I'm looking forward to reading this young adult novel when it's released on 6th December 2013.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

M. Pax: Top Five Highs and Lows of Publishing

Please welcome M Pax to my blog today. She is a truly amazing person with a lot of drive and talent. A great combo. Take it away, Mary.

This author gig is tough, rife with ups and downs. Here are the highlights of mine:

Top Lows
  1. Rejections. I still submit short stories and still get rejections.
  2. Bad reviews. Most of them are for my perma free The Backworlds. This used to really bother me. Lately, not so much. It sells my sequels. It does its job. And it’s a darn good story.
  3. The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear not selling. That one is like pushing water up a hill.
  4. Mistakes. I’ve hired editors I didn’t like and a cover artist I didn’t get along with. I’ve learned to get recommendations from writers I know and to get them privately. Just because a writer lists an artist or editor doesn’t mean she or he would use that vendor again. I’ve also learned to trust my gut and intuition.
  5. Slow sales days. Husband Unit hates these, too. He has to listen to me whine about how it might all be over. Yeah, I can be a bit melodramatic.

Top Highs
  1. Fan letters. There is nothing better than contact from a reader who says he or she loves my writing. It makes all the lows worthwhile. Every single one.
  2. Dr. Joseph Geary being a fan of the Backworlds series. As the innovator of modern telescope optics, this is an uber geeky victory for me. One that made me squee. It also impressed my astronomy boyfriends.
  3. Being contacted by a publisher this past summer with an offer to include Semper Audacia in an anthology. She paid me, too. Space Jockey is now out, selling very well, and gaining me exposure.
  4. The Backworlds series selling steady and growing. Yay! The fans now help shape the stories. Originally, it was Lepsi’s skull found under the ash sea. I received a lot of letters telling me how much my readers loved Lepsi and Talos. So yeah, Lepsi is not dead. Not anymore.
  5. Doing what I love – writing stories. It’s a real high when each one is finished and is sent out into the world.
M. Pax-- Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at:

Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Beyond the Edge
Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets

Photo: Please note, barring author pics, most of the photos on this blog were taken by me. However, this one of the girl rock climbing is not one of them. I don't think I could climb that high. Mary kindly provided this pic for the post.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Out of Control

Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans
Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal ... Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows. Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path. Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.
Recommended reading audiences 15+

About Michelle
Michelle writes to inspire, take people on a journey and escape their world. She believes you can find healing or hope when you read about someone else’s story – fiction or truth. Michelle is married to an awesome man. She spends most of her days educating, socialising and sporting their four children and her nights writing. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spiralling Out of Control via Amazon

My review
Set in Australia, this is a story about a fifteen year old girl named Stephanie who spirals out of control and goes from popular student with so much potential, to a drop out involved with sex and drugs. After moving away from all her friends in Sydney, Steph finds herself bullied at the new school, neglected by her parents, and in desperate need to find a connection with someone, anyone.

I love the occasional use of verse scattered throughout the novel. The poetry sometimes portrayed more raw emotion in its simplicity than the main body of the novel. I got the impression this was because, since the story is written through Steph's point of view, she was more able to express herself through the freedom of verse than she could with her family and friends.

Because I became so deeply invested in the character of Stephanie, the story became increasingly difficult to read as I watched her fall further into her downward spiral. I kept wondering what would make Steph wake up and take control. At each terrible event, I'd think, 'this is it', but she kept making catastrophic decisions and all the adults around her turned a blind eye, or made things worse.

It's a heart wrenching story of how easy it is to fall so far. It's an unsettling read, but one that will stay with me for a long while.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the people affected by the bushfires of New South Wales in the last couple of days. I live in the south of Sydney and took this photo last Thursday from my front balcony, showing the smoke from the fires. Over two hundred homes have been lost. As I type this, there are still fires burning out of control.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time Travel: Where and When Would You Go?

Today's post is in honour of PK Hrezo's grand cover reveal for her nifty time travel novel, Butterman (Time) Travel Inc, due for release 12th November 2013.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated
We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first. 

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Find PK Hrezo: Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Website
If you could walk into a time travel agency and book a time trip, where and when would you go, and why?

I used to travel a lot. I had a particular love for Britain and Europe because of their ancient sites. If the place had a castle, fort or other kind of ruins, then I had to visit. The ancient sites always made me wonder, what was life like back then, what happened to the people there? This question never rang so loudly than it did at Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement, located at the Bay of Skaill on the largest island in the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland.

It was a village with eight clustered stone buildings, which housed no more than fifty people at any given time and was occupied from roughly 3180 BC–2500 BC. Those dates make my mind boggle.

For 600 years or so, the village flourished, then one day the people who lived there abandoned it. Evidence from artefacts found at the site suggested the inhabitants fled in haste. There are many theories floating around as to why the people left. The most popular one is climate change, with a storm forcing them out. My tour guide, with his heavy Scottish accent, suggested an invasion or the encroaching sea.

So, if I had the power to travel anywhere and anytime, I guess I'd go to that tiny village just to find out what happened.

Where and when would you go and why?

To see the other participants in this bloghop, check out the list HERE

Monday, October 14, 2013

Terri Rochenski: Be Entreatable

Today I'm over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website, posting about how to turn your writing insecurities into strengths. So, while I'm there, Terri Rochenski is taking over here with a great writing tip.

Terri and I first met through the Make Believe anthology as contributing authors. Her excitement and energy is wonderful to watch, and rather infectious. Her debut novel, Eye of the Soul, is a great fantasy that draws you in from the first page. When she's not conquering the world with her stories, you can find her here: Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads. Take it away, Terri.

Be Entreatable
One of the best ways to date I’ve learned how to hone my craft was through writing forums. I’ve been active in two within the past couple of years, Writer’s Digest and Scribophile. While taking advantage of both, I applied myself not only to posting my own stories, but critiquing other authors’ works as well.

While I didn’t always feel qualified to give my opinions, I stuck to what I knew as a reader—plot lines making sense, engaging characters and stories—those types of things. As I learned more about the craft itself, the more I felt I could offer in terms of feedback.

One thing I noticed while participating in these online forums is that a lot of budding authors carry pride around like a 100 lb. block of gold. God forbid you point out an issue with their baby. Hackles rise and offense is often taken when none was implied. With an unentreatable attitude like this, an aspiring authors chances of learning and going on to become published is slim to none.

While I am by no means an old pro at the writing and publishing thing, one thing I DO know. Be entreatable. Be willing to learn. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in accepting other people’s help. Quite a few have gone on before, paving the way, learning on their own bumpy journey, and have no wish for others to experience their heartache.

My motto, though? Just be sure to chew up the meat and spit out the bones.
Everyone has an opinion and not everyone can be right. While some things boil down to a preference of style, accept what will make you a stronger story teller.

The main thing?

Don’t lose your voice, the style that is all your own. Being unique is what will get you noticed at submission time.
Eye of the Soul by Terri Rochenski

Escape. That should be Hyla's first thought as her people are chained and imprisoned for no imaginable reason. Instead, Hyla finds herself traveling through a land void of Natives, with human soldiers pillaging in desperate pursuit of her, and in search of the mystical Pool of Souls—home to the one man who can save her people.

Or so she believes.

Led by her faith in the deity Fadir, Hyla is met along her journey by Jadon—a human male and fierce King's warrior, and his childhood best friend Conlin—one of the few Natives aware of his Fadir-given Talents. Protected by Jadon, guided by Conlin, and with an unfailing belief in the purpose of her pilgrimage, Hyla carries on.

Like her, though, another searches for the Pool, and should he gain access first, everyone she loves, and everything she knows, could be lost. Forever.

Amazon Paperback / Amazon Kindle / Barnes and Noble / Kobo

Thanks, Terri! Such great advice. That willingness to learn and accepting people's help will take us a long way, not only in writing, but in life. 

Today is Motivational Monday over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group Facebook Group

And don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Moonless Reveal and Gravity Review

Moonless by Crystal Collier
Young Adult, Historical Paranormal Romance

Alexia must choose safety and an arranged marriage,
or true love and being hunted by the Soulless every moonless night.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless. 

MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Crystal, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.
Website - Blog - Twitter - Goodreads - Facebook


I went to see Gravity today, but wasn’t expecting much since most of the reviews I’d read were lukewarm. Well, I don’t know what the reviewers were on about. I loved it. Visually it’s spectacular, the sound and music are brilliant, the acting wonderful, and the tension was so edge of seat that the movie had me engaged from start to finish. It wasn’t the standard space type blockbuster we’ve come to expect from movies like Alien, Sunshine, Serenity et al. The only monsters were a nasty debris storm and the temptation to give up against what seemed like insurmountable odds. It got me thinking about writing… You know where I’m going with this:

Never give up! Keep going, keep writing!

Are you looking forward to reading Moonless? Love the cover? Have you seen Gravity yet? What's the next movie you're planning to see?

A big THANK YOU to everyone supporting the Insecure Writer's Support Group Website and Facebook Group. You guys are truly awesome!!

Due to some unexpected 'stuff' that's come up, I need to focus elsewhere for the week. I'll be back around the blogsphere at full strength next week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Write from Your Heart and #IWSG

Writing from your heart isn't easy. It's easy to follow the rules, but if all you do is stay within the boundaries, tick the boxes and play it safe, then your story will lack a certain spark. It's the heart that makes a story shine, the heart that pushes your story to a new and riveting level. Below are my tips on how to write from your heart.

Make yourself vulnerable. Get over those insecurities and put yourself in your writing. Bare your soul, showing the world your passion for the story and its characters.

Be wholly in control, but let yourself go, giving yourself the freedom and permission to make mistakes.

Ignore the trends. Ignore what you think other people will want to read and instead write what you want to read.

Be brave enough to break the rules, making certain you have a full knowledge of how and why the rules work in the first place.

Ignore the urge to write for publication, but know what works for publication within your target market and, more importantly, why it works.

Listen to your characters, but decide for yourself if what they want is what you want for the story.

Be honest with your emotions and those of your characters. Delve into the truth of a scene and don't be afraid to explore what you find there.

Know only you can write the story, but be open to outside influences.

Broaden your experiences--this includes reading widely and frequently--because they will influence not only what you write, but the way you write it. They will steer you away from writing copies of someone else's story.

Practise. Like anything, writing from your heart takes practise. So keep writing.

What helps you to write from your heart? 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J Cavanaugh. Members of the group post on the first Wednesday of every month. Everyone is welcome. If you haven't already, then please sign up HERE.


I have the honour of being one of the admins for the site, along with Joy Campbell, Joylene Nowell Butler, Susan Gourley/Kelley, Michelle Wallace, L. Diane Wolfe and, of course, the Ninja Captain and spark behind it all, Alex J Cavanaugh. As a team, we helped to put it together and are currently working hard to build it into something truly special.

Along with being chock full of writerly resources, the site will offer encouraging and helpful posts on writing. We will post every Monday and the first Wednesdays. We hope to eventually open up the Wednesdays to guest posts too. So please check it out HERE.

We've also set up a Facebook group. We'd love to see you there!

Oh and our twitter hastag is still #IWSG

How has the Insecure Writer's Support Group helped you?

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Cover Reveal and Paperback Release

A ghostly cover reveal:

A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick.

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head.

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul.

Why? ...

Who is she? ...

Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry.

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out.

But, it’s not at all what she expects ...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.

The Ghosts of Aquinnah will be released by Ink Smith Publishing
on December 5, 2013

Find Julie Flanders:
Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads


Color me a paperback release:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

You can pre-order Colors Like Memories at MuseItUp Publishing, or find it on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Ebook copies are also available on all vendor sites!

Meradeth is also holding a giveaway so be sure to check it out.

Find Meradeth Houston:
Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

October is an exciting month for book releases and cover reveals and other fabulous things. If you haven't imploded from all the great up-and-coming excitement, then click here to check out some serious cool I had to share. Can you beat that for cool? (Okay, so you know I'm a geek, right?)

And DON'T FORGET this Wednesday is the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It will be a super special one so don't miss it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why Bad Reviews Don't Bother Me and Shouldn't Bother You

Because I throw everything I have into my stories and my writing means so much to me, I thought I'd have an exceptionally hard time when it came to reviews. I expected my heart to rip in two at any slightly negative comment coming my way. Certain I'd lose sleep for days, I readied my emergency stash of chocolate.

Instead I found myself totally fine with the whole process. Sure, I won't deny the initial sting when I found someone who didn't like one of my stories, but I got over it pretty fast--way faster than I ever could've guessed. Surprise made me work out the reason for my duck's back reaction and I thought I'd share why bad reviews don't bother me and shouldn't bother you.

Confidence in the story. If I'm not completely happy with my story, I won't put it out into the public forum. To have the confidence to put it out there, I first need to make sure it's the best it can be--by sending it to critique partners and beta readers, using the expertise of professional editors, and listening to their advice. Let's not forget the benefits of learning the craft, attending workshops and conferences to develop the craft, and writing more than just one story. If I like my story, then it won't matter as much what other people think.

We can't please everyone. It's often just a matter of finding your audience. Often reviews come from readers who picked up the book for free and who would not have normally read a story in that genre. I can shake them off because it's not personal, whether the reviewer tries to make it personal or not. Not every story will suit the same audience either.

Bad reviews validate good reviews. When I check a novel's reviews before I buy and it only has glowing five star ratings, I'll skip the book because this tells me only the author's friends and family have given a review. I no longer trust the good reviews. Every book gets some bad reviews. It's inevitable and it's needed for a balanced representation of the novel.

We can learn from bad reviews. Some less than shining reviews can be truly helpful through the constructive criticism they offer. Rather than getting upset, or dismissing them in a huff, it's worth rereading them to see if something can be learned from them.

Not all reviews are honest. I find it difficult to get upset over a review that was written out of spite, a need to knock down the competition, or a general grumpiness due to quitting caffeine the day before. Because most readers of reviews can spot these types, they bear little weight. They tend to reflect more poorly on the reviewer than the story being reviewed. Whatever a person's motivation behind writing a bad review, if it's not an honest review, then it can easily be dismissed. Perhaps a small chocolate can help wash away the negativity.

Getting upset dulls the shine. It's just not worth wasting our precious time getting upset over the little things. Yes, bad reviews count as the little things. If you're being reviewed, that means you're published. Celebrate that instead.

How do you handle--or think you'll handle--bad reviews? 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alex J Cavanaugh: I Didn’t Want to be an Author

Today is a very special day. I'm deeply honoured and pleased to welcome here, the irrepressible, Ninja Captain himself, Alex J Cavanaugh
Take it away, Alex

I Didn’t Want to be an Author
It’s true! I wasn’t one of those people who’d dreamed of being an author since I was young. I enjoyed writing stories as a teen, but writing a book just never crossed my mind. Music was a greater passion and it was my college minor. After college, even that was put aside as I ventured into advertising and design and eventually computer work.

Several years ago, I found an old manuscript in a drawer. It wasn’t complete, but it was the longest thing I’d ever written. Created when I was a teen, it was awful. But I remembered the characters well, as they’d appeared in a few other stories. Despite the terrible writing, the characters were solid, so on a whim I started to write a brand new story.

A year and a half later, and after torturing my two test readers and my wife (who still read my manuscripts to this day – bless them!), I finally had what I thought was a much better story. My wife then prodded me to submit it for publication. I started researching online and quickly decided agents were out of my league, especially as I had no other writing credits. (And I didn’t think working on technical manuals would count.) So I made a list of science fiction publishers and started there. After numerous rejections, I widened my search to include more genres, and finally Dancing Lemur Press said yes.

And then I heard the scariest words ever – you need to get your butt online and build a platform.

Somehow I managed to do that through blogging and Twitter. CassaStar was released and I stumbled my way through a blog tour.

After it was over, I heard the next scariest words ever – when is the sequel coming out?

Sequel? What sequel? I only planned to write one book. Somehow I managed to stumble my way through another manuscript, relying on an old short story to get me through. With the help of three critique partners, I polished it and sent it to my publisher, and they set a release date.

A funny thing happened not long after that – almost a year after its release, CassaStar soared up the Amazon charts. It hung in the top one hundred for science fiction for months, which blew my mind. With CassaStar doing so well and CassaFire just two months from its release, my publisher asked if I could write one more and make it a trilogy.

I labored over the outline for months. By the time I actually started writing it, both of my books were Amazon best sellers and had soared to the top of the charts in the UK as well. Talk about pressure! I had to end the series with a bang so I wouldn’t disappoint the fans. Now I know why authors have meltdowns…

I never planned to become an author. And yet, here I am now, with three books to my credit, as CassaStorm was released on Tuesday. It’s been the craziest journey but a total blessing.

So, beware those old manuscripts hiding in drawers. You just might open Pandora’s Box and find yourself in the unlikely role of an author!

Thanks again, Lynda – you rock!

By Alex J Cavanaugh
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.”
– Edi’s Book Lighhouse

…the racial conflicts propelled much of the plot in this story, driving home a message that's relevant to our own world and giving the book an interesting texture.”
- C. Lee McKenzie, author of Alligators Overhead

Cavanaugh has created wonderfully moving moments of great poignancy… CassaStorm could have been a dark story full of hardship and angst, but instead it's a cleverly balanced story about hope and triumph.”
- Lynda R. Young, author of Make Believe

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Website, Twitter, Goodreads

Book trailer

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CassaStorm Launch

Three cheers for Alex J Cavanaugh, Ninja Captain Extraordinaire. Today is the grand launch of CassaStorm, his third book in the super great Cassa science fiction series. It’s a fab read. My review is here on Goodreads.

To celebrate release week, Alex is giving away prizes.
Check it out here on his blog.

I’ll be back on Thursday with the Captain himself honouring us with his cool ninja captainness. He’ll be telling us why he didn’t want to be an author. Be sure not to miss it.


Have you read CassaStar and CassaFire, his first two books yet? Are you eager to snatch up the final one in the series?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cover Reveal: Sacrifice Her

The day has finally come. Time to reveal the cover of Sacrifice HER. Be amazed.

Title: Sacrifice HER by Sheena-kay Graham

Goodreads: Sacrifice HER

Release Date: December 2013

Summary: When a city is at stake is the life of one sixteen-year old girl worth risking thousands? Deidra Moore goes on the run after escaping from a group of human sacrifices for Bane: God of Gore. She doesn't believe he exists and sees uncertainty in the scorching desert as a better alternative. But Faux City isn't finished with her and their leader Lord Brinn is ordered by Bane - through one of his maiden worshipers- to bring her back or face dire consequences. In the desert Deidra meets a wanderer named Kane and as feelings spark can they find a safe place to lead a new life before Lord Brinn and his soldiers catch up with them? Yet the question remains. Does Bane really exist and if he does what will happen if either side succeeds or fails? Told in alternating perspectives of both the runaway servant girl and the blonde strong willed leader.

Author Bio:

Sheena-kay Graham was never meant for a traditional job behind a desk. Her childhood career plans included becoming a ballerina, actress or someone who helped people. So naturally she decided to be a writer who writes from her bed. Yes, no desk for this Jamaican book lover. No matter if it’s reading, writing or using the get the gist. The love of the written word has always been with her leading to stories, novels, poetry and way too much fan fiction. This Christian woman can be found trolling Amazon online, in local book bookstores, watching movies on the big screen, or in her bed, or reading/writing/on the laptop...again in her bed. Mainly writes YA fiction and is ready to unleash her creativity to wow the masses.


Cover Design: 
Image of woman with flowing hair (purchased): © Transfuchsian |

Cover Designer:  Langao @

And for a final bit of wow factor. Look at what Sheena got for free without asking.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Online Etiquette for Authors

While social media and online marketing isn’t such a new concept anymore, it does help to sometimes refresh the ole writerly brain on how best to interact over the intertubes. Below are my quick tips to get it right:

Double check what you’ve written before pressing the send/publish button. Those typos can make you look unprofessional and the grammar errors can make you want to go hide in the closet for a few days—and we all know a closet is not the most inspirational place to write.  

Don’t do online what you wouldn’t do in person. Heck, don’t do some things you would do in person too! Use commonsense and courtesy, and avoid those flame wars by avoiding inflammatory language.

Don’t say anything online while you’re angry, drunk or on pain medication. Come to think of it, maybe at times like those, the closet isn’t such a bad place after all.

Be the real thing. If you try to be someone you’re not, then it will show and you’ll come across as disingenuous. No one wants to be accused of being fake, not even this closet-dwelling recluse on a chocolate binge.

Use your author name. As much as ‘AngelsRock’ sounds cool for an online name, even if your stories are about angels, it’s yourself you want to promote. People will connect to a real name over a gamer tag, or even no name at all.

Be available. The whole point of social media is the social aspect. You want people to find you, even contact you. So that means, along with your author name, you’ll need to provide an email address or some other way to connect with you. You'll need to be present on those sites too, rather than relying heavily on automated or prescheduled posts.

Avoid the hard sell. It doesn’t work and it turns people away. Go go double jeopardy.

Talk about other things than your books. Yes, there are a gazillion other things to talk about than the awesomeness of your book.

Cross promote, but don’t only cross promote. If all you post is promotional stuff, whether it’s for your book or someone else’s, people will grow tired of it.

Be generous. Listen to what others have to say and look for opportunities to help.

Thank the people who have helped you. This might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many authors forget to do this. So I’ll say again, if someone has gone out of their way to help you, even if it’s a little thing, then don’t forget to thank them … or into the closet for you!

Can you think of other etiquette do's and don'ts for writers? What's been your standout experience of writers who get it right or wrong?

Photo: A pic I took at IKEA. Think closets. Okay, so it's a thin connection, but I amused myself.