Sunday, December 27, 2009

Coffee, Tea or What?

I seldom sit at my computer or writing desk with a cup of something by my side. Iced tea, iced coffee or the hot versions of either. As I write, my daughter is preparing some chai tea for me in the new tea pot my friend bought me for Christmas. I love hot tea in evening or afternoon when the weather is cold outside. Does any thing beat curling up with a new book in one hand and a hot mug of a favorite brew in the other.

All the big chain bookstores do booming business in their coffee shops with over priced and over fattening drinks. But we buy them anyway. Coffee and books seem to go together.

I've never conducted a poll of my fellow writers but I'd bet many of them have their favorite mug filled with their steaming caffeine of choice on the corner of their desk. How many of them received gifts of new coffee mugs or flavored tea bags for Christmas? How many of them found a gift card to Starbucks in their stocking like I did?

The end of the year, a time for setting goals for the new year, brings cold weather to our part of the world. As I plot my next novel, outline my promotion plans and listen to my new ipod, I'm sipping on my delicious chai tea. Later this evening when I delve into my C.J. Sanson mystery, Sovereign, I change my drink of choice to wine.

How about you? Do you love a particular hot drink or other beverage while writing or reading? Does it change with the seasons?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Today's booksigning postponed

Old Man Winter's surprise appearance forced the postponement of today's booksigning, which was to have been held at The Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg. Until yesterday, forecasts seemed to call for only a dusting. As you can see in the photo from my deck, already about three inches have fallen, and it's only 7:30 a.m. The brunt of the storm is supposed to hit later this afternoon.
So look for more news on the rescheduled event in a few months. After the thaw.
Meanwhile, I'll be serving hot chocolate on the deck, if you want to brave the storm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Signing Sunday at 1 pm - A Happy Ending

Several months ago, a good friend and colleague chided me - gently, but with good reason - about letting my published books wither on the vine. Published in 1999 (Acting Assertively) and 2004 (Diverse Divorce) in the educational market, these books continue to pay small royalties and are sold primarily through the publisher's catalog. I did the press releases and post cards when they first came out, but for quite some time now, I've been content to sit back and let them sell - or not.

Fortunately, the wake-up call from my friend arose from opportune circumstances, not something catastrophic, like the threat of my book going out of print. My friend, who works at Borders, made it her personal quest to get my books into our local store.

Thanks to her nudge and persistence, along with the efforts of Cindy, the manager of my local Borders, my books are now in the store. And on Sunday, as part of their twice yearly event for educators, I'll be doing a book signing at 1:00.

If you live in the York area, stop by and say hi. If you'd like to buy a book, I'll be happy to sell you one, but I'll also be happy if you simply stop by to chat. And if Ann is working, I might even ask her to take a bow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practice Your Pitch

The Fourth Wednesday Writers Group meets at the Camp Hill Barnes and Noble from 6 - 9 pm on (that's right) the Fourth Wednesday of every month. Normally we spend our time critiquing each others writing and helping one another improve our products.

However, with the upcoming conferences (Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Conference in March. and Pennwriters in May) we'll spend our meetings in February and March helping writers perfect their pitch. Mike Silvestri will lead the discussion in February on how to effectively pitch your novel to an agent or editor. Then in March, we'll give each writer a chance to practice what they've learned. You normally get about five minutes to pitch your novel so you need to make every second count. This is a great opportunity to get ready to meet that agent or editor.

It is recommended you have a completed novel so you're ready to send it in. So come on, what are you waiting for. Mike is experienced and ready to share that experience.

Questions should be addressed to Mike or to myself, Don Helin.

Good luck and get ready to come out pitching.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best reads of 2009

by Cate Masters

The end of the year means lists! Here are but a few:

The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2009. Sometimes the review itself is a great read, such as the one for Follow Me: A heroine bent on reinvention is at the center of this densely stitched crazy quilt of a novel, which spans six decades and a wealth of genres while evoking a quintessential American mythology. How do you get a reviewer like that? I know, I know: write a great story. Two of my favorite authors apparently have - Alice Munro and Barbara Kingsolver, both on the list.

Publishers Weekly posted several lists.

USA Today listed the bestsellers, which doesn't necessarily mean a best read, to me. There's viral marketing, and then there's great writing.

The Guardian UK published a list of what kept them turning pages and a "What not to miss" list.

Amazon solely recognized that hey, 2009 isn't over yet! Its subhead's a disclaimer stating "so far." Which begs the question: do publishers avoid releases after say, October, knowing that the listmakers won't include those books in the "best" categories?

And if you're taking a vacation in a balmy clime, you might want to check out NPR's best beach reads for the year.

If you're the kind of person who cross-checks lists thoroughly, check out Large Hearted Boy's amazing compilation of lists.

My TBR list always grows after reading these. As an author, of course I'd love to be listed, but more than that, I hope my writing touches readers' hearts and minds, and makes them want to read more.

Sadly, I'm not on any of the above lists. But then, they're all for print. When I Googled "2009 best ebooks," the mishmash of results contained nothing related to the search. Maybe it's time for such a list. Not the individual "bestsellers" on each publisher's site. A comprehensive list encompassing all epublishers and genres, just like the print versions. It would be a leap toward respectability and recognition of the validity of ebooks. They're not going away anytime soon. It's misleading for only those print books also published as ebooks to be listed, given the rising sales of ebooks. So I'm putting out the challenge: let's have a "best ebook reads" list next year!

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giving Thanks

Since we're in the middle of the holiday trifecta (TG, Xmas, and NYE), I want to take a moment to give thanks for all that I have received this year.

I'm thankful for my family, my wife, Jenny, and our son, Logan. I never thought life could be so rewarding, but every day is better than the last.

I'm thankful for our extended family; our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So many have volunteered their time and energy to help us as new parents. It's marvelous to witness how Logan has brought our entire family closer together.

I'm thankful for Lou Anders and Pyr Books for giving me an opportunity to share my writing with the world. One of my main New Years wishes is to make them very glad they chose me. I'm also grateful to all the other publishers who have taken on the book, and to all those who jump on the Shadow-Train in the coming year.

I'm thankful to my agent, Eddie Schneider, and his (professional) partner, Joshua Bilmes, at JABberwocky for taking in a poor wretch like me. Likewise, I aim to prove myself a wise investment of their time and talents.

I'm thankful for our friends, for their love and support. They make our lives richer.

I hope all of you have a safe and merry holiday season, and a wonderful new year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Attracting Crowds to Your Booksigning

Published authors soon discover that their dreams--fans snatching multiple copies of their books from the shelves, begging for autographs--rarely match reality. Often a book disappears into the vast ocean of books, making barely a ripple. Sure, you sell a stack of copies to your relatives and best friends. Maybe the local library or bookstore sets up a signing, where you sit amongst copies of your newly minted book and wait...and wait... and wait...

So where are those hordes of fans? The adoring public? A few people gaze at you and your sign. Several wander over, mostly to tell you about their dreams of being a writer. Your mom arrives, dragging a few friends in tow. You manage to sell, um, three copies? Count yourself lucky. Those are average first-time booksigning sales unless you're an exceptionally good salesperson who buttonholes people and convinces them to buy.

Unfortunately, most authors prefer keyboards to conversation, so high-powered salespersonship is beyond their powers. They shrink as people approach the table and pray they won't have to come up with an opening gambit. So if you're a shrinking violet, how can you ensure that you have plenty of visitors to your signing (besides having your mom strong-arm her friends)? Try the old safety-in-numbers trick. The more authors, the more mothers to marshal friends to the table. The larger variety, too, will encourage more browsers. Who knows? Maybe one of those visitors (or more) may pick up your book. It's worth a try.

Oh, and a little chocolate always helps. If it doesn't attract the customers you'd hoped for, you can use it as comfort food.

The Susquehanna Writers are taking their own advice and banding together to brave the world of booksignings. You can meet many of us at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA, on December 19, 2009.

If you want to know where and when to show up, here are the additional details:

3-5 pm, December 19, 2009

1302 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 236-2665

Get autographed copies of romances, mysteries, self-help, thrillers, history, YAs, and more. And the Midtown Scholar offers the largest array of rare and used books between New York and Chicago. They have more than ONE MILLION secondhand and out-of-print books in all fields.You’ll find something to please everyone on your holiday gift list.

So bring Mom, Dad, Sis, Bro, and even crazy Uncle Albert. We promise you a delicious holiday treat (if we don't eat it all first). A good incentive to show up early before all the the best stuff is gone.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What Beats BIC?

After publicly declaring an end to grouchy Saturdays two weekends ago on my blog, I am adjusting to my new Saturday outlook. Last weekend, I promised myself an hour of writing time on Saturday morning, and not only made good on that promise, but felt better about my writing than I had in the many, many weeks where I'd beaten myself up for not working hard enough.

Yesterday, I didn't write at all, unless you count the critique session my sister and I held at the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble. Instead, I emailed a friend about a book proposal, met my husband for a brief and unsubtle Christmas gift hint session at a store that sells the Pandora bracelet that's on my list and bought a birthday gift for my brother-in-law (not at the same store). I had a vague feeling of guilt, but none of the self-flagellation that has typically accompanied my writing-less Saturdays.

I've always known that down time is necessary for my sanity, and although I've suspected it's also important to my writing process, it wasn't until I gave myself permission to take a break and re-adjust my schedule that I could feel the difference. I know I need to find nooks and crannies of time during the rest of the week to get that writing time in, but that's something I was already doing, and taking Saturdays off - at least some of the time - motivates me to keep doing it. In the end, for me at least, clear-headed composing beats enforced butt-in-chair-because-it's-Saturday writing, but the only way I could discover that was to step away from what I've always done and try something new.

What a concept.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for many reasons

by Cate Masters
Yesterday when I checked my email, I found a contract from Eternal Press for my novel, Fever Dreams!
Being so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, I've been tallying up all my blessings for this year. Topping the list are my wonderful and supportive family. I love you all more than anything.
My friends and critique partners are amazing, giving sound advice while cheering me on.
I've met many incredible people this year. Though some only virtually, their warmth and caring and creative spark shine through.
Though this year has been tough for many reasons, it's been incredible on the writing front. Fever Dreams will be my eleventh story contracted by an epress this year, and the third with Eternal Press. Like One Soul for Sale and Picture This, Fever Dreams will be available through Amazon as well.
This story has special meaning for me. It represents the return of my muse, who'd given up on me while I raised my kids and went off to Tijuana on a drunken binge. After I began writing this story, she returned with the vengeance of a ten-year hangover and has been lobbing story ideas at me faster than I can type. I'm not complaining. I'm typing as fast as I can, or writing in notebooks, or generally mulling over what the characters might be planning to spring on me next. And loving every millisecond of it all.
Fever Dreams probably won't be easy to classify. It incorporates the theme of a woman finding her bliss in life, which doesn't necessarily mean romance. Although it has a love story, it's a complicated one, much like real life. But it also contains some dream sequences that aren't quite fantasy. I'll leave the categorizing to the experts.
In the meanwhile, my muse is waiting. And I don't want to keep her waiting anymore.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, all.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Midtown Scholar Bookstore Basket Giveaway

Congrats to Joe Barrett, who won the basket of books donated to the Midtown Scholar Bookstore by the Susquehanna Writers.
Preceding the drawing, Mike Silvestri gave a fascinating talk on Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 as part of The Big Read.

Mike donated a copy of "Bark of the Tree" to the basket, which the group provided to the bookstore in celebration of National Bookstore Day.

Four other members of the Susquehanna Writers were on hand for the drawing.

Don Helin, who contributed a copy of "Thy Kingdom Come"

Tina Crone, who contributed "The Yellow Stone"

Lori Myers

Cate Masters, who donated "Picture This" and "One Soul for Sale"

Afterward, Mike had a signing for his new scifi anthology, It Came From Beyond the Sun.

Mike will also be signing copies today at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop, where the second Susquehanna Writers basket of books awaits a lucky winner. The drawing is this afternoon, so you still have time to rush over there and enter!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Scaling Chapter 11

I’ve done it! Finally! I’ve conquered Chapter 11! Oh, I’m certain that I’ll need to revisit it and revise it, but as for the first draft? It’s finished. Fini. Finito. Done!

Some chapters are wonderfully smooth sailing. The dialogue flows, the descriptions sing (or at least hum) the action rises and falls like rolling hills.

Not Chapter 11. Chapter 11 was a mountain that rose straight up out of the ground with no footholds or pathways. Uncharted territory.

As I climbed the mountain, I made headway, but I grew winded. Just as I thought I’d forged a path, I stumbled over a rock or a root and tumbled headfirst into brambles. I moaned. I groaned. I gnashed my teeth. This was only Chapter 11. What on earth would Chapter 12 hold?

But Chapter 12 was another mountain, perhaps in a different range with a less steep slope. I could conquer Chapter 12…if only I could get through Chapter 11.

So I forged ahead, determined to conquer the mountain. The first expedition took me partway up and gave me an idea of what future travel might hold. The next expedition covered more ground, but it was rough and required going over – the scenery was bland and the path too narrow.

With each expedition, more of the beauty of the mountain emerged. Possibilities presented themselves. Some were worth exploring, others dead ends.

Eventually, the peak of the mountain came into view. I was nearly there. A rough path had been cleared, and the way down seemed less treacherous.

Reaching the summit, I took in the view. It was rocky and unpaved, but promising.

The way down was easier – I had fewer brambles to clear, fewer paths to create. I could focus on beautification, and if by the time I got to the foot of the mountain again, the path was too rambling, I could resolve that on my next pass through.

I have climbed the mountain that is Chapter 11, and am ready to tackle the next one, Chapter 12.

I just hope it’s not as steep.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Featured Author interview at Hartline

Thanks to my awesome agent, I'm the featured author on the Hartline Literary Agency blog! Each of the agents takes turns writing the blog, so there's always something interesting to read, even when it's not about me! ;o)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hi Tracy: Enjoyed your post. Did you get your helicopter training in the Army? I note you mention medevac pilots.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Chance to Win?

The Susquehanna Writers are pleased to welcome author Tracey Cramer-Kelly today. Tracey is the author of the romantic suspense novel
Last Chance Rescue. Not only is Tracey a helicopter pilot--helicopters figure heavily in the story--but she also rides motorcycles and owns her own cycle shop. We've invited Tracy to share a bit about her life with motorcycles. She's also chosen an excerpt from her book that highlights her interest in and knowledge about helicopters.Take it away, Tracey...

Although motorcycles don’t make an appearance in Last Chance Rescue, they are certainly an integral part of my life—and a great way to meet interesting people.

And people are the seed—before I know it I’m creating characters based on bits and pieces of someone I met or an experience I had.

A short piece I wrote about motorcycles was recently published in Why We Ride (a book of essays from women riders) and can be read at

As a bonus, I thought your readers might enjoy the following piece about The Great Motorcycle Spirit…

My transformation is almost complete.

“Where the devil did I put those gloves?” I mutter.

By “gloves,” I don’t mean winter gloves. I mean riding gloves.

Because today—for a few hours, at least—I am, simply…a biker chick. Today I will seek comfort and tranquility where I have found it so many times before: in the arms of an “iron horse.”

There is ritual in my preparation. I slip my feet into well-worn black leather boots that reach up my calves. I pull my favorite blue jeans down over them.

Then it’s time for my leather chaps. I wrap the top belt around my waist, making sure to tuck my shirt in properly. Once the belt is engaged I wrap my legs in leather like a tortilla. I run the zipper—bottom to top—on the inside of my leg and thigh.

I slip into my favorite leather jacket—the one with fringe and a rose emblem etched into the hide—the way another woman might slip into a dress or a suit.

My psychologist is waiting for me in the garage.

My psychologist is silver and black with just the right amount of chrome. I never have to wait two weeks to get an appointment, and it doesn’t cost anywhere near $180 an hour.

I swing my leg over my psychologist and settle into my new seat. I turn the key and hit the switch. I can’t resist twisting the throttle just to hear that distinctive motorcycle “growl.”

Finally I nod to my husband and we are off…

The throttle is easy in my hand and I have to check my speed. After two decades of riding, the gears are an extension of my body, and I shift without conscious thought. I take comfort in the cadence of two wheels on pavement—and on the shadow that rides beside me.

Yet I find myself still tied to concern. For the friend whose 36-year-old sister recently died in a car accident, leaving two children (six and nine) motherless. For the production problems and the competitor who copied our product. For the friends who are struggling through a painful divorce…

The list could go on, but I know I must shake it off. I must let the tranquility that comes with riding find me and cleanse me.

It is a glorious day in Minnesota and we are riding one of my favorite routes—gentle hills and county roads that curve and sweep toward and along the Mississippi River. The tips of the trees are showing evidence of fall—splashes of red, yellow and orange.

Eventually, the Great Motorcycle Spirit works its magic. Yes—I am even smiling!

Gratitude begins to flow again. Gratitude for my children and husband. Gratitude that I have the health and the means to ride…and that the country I live in allows freedom of choice. And yes, gratitude for work that I love (most days!), and a hobby—riding a motorcycle—that never fails to remind me of my own personal freedom.

This flow of gratitude becomes a torrent as I stand on the banks of the Mississippi River, my husband’s hand in mine and the sun kissing my head, spreading its warmth. I tilt my head back and smile into the heavens—to the Great Motorcycle Spirit.

Wow, Tracey, that was an amazing ride we took with you. And now we're off into the wild blue yonder with a lengthy excerpt from Tracey's book, Last Chance Ride:

The helicopter shuddered and swayed as it lifted off the helipad. Instinctively Brad Sievers gripped the edge of the bench, willing his stomach to calm down.

The chopper was so full he could hardly move, and he felt overly warm and claustrophobic. Though he wore a headset, he could hear the Colorado air pulsing through the giant blades above.

Minutes ago he'd been terribly insistent about tagging along on this search-and-rescue mission; now he wasn't sure it was a good idea. What the hell am I doing? he thought. I'm in advertising, for Chrissakes!

"Okay, listen up," the team leader said.

The movement of the chopper was so foreign to Brad that he had difficulty paying attention. The team leader talked about the missing snowmobilers -- what they looked like, where they were last seen and probable scenarios. He threw out a lot of numbers -- coordinates, Brad realized later -- and assigned teams to what he kept calling quadrants. "And Jessie will take our ride-along in CHIPS," he finished.

Brad had known Jessie Van Dyke since kindergarten -- in fact, it was entirely possible he'd chased her around the playground in "kiss and tell" -- but they'd been only casual acquaintances through high school. He hadn't seen her in ten years -- until he showed up at their high school reunion in Minnesota just weeks ago, hoping to impress his old crush, Aimee Kinderbach -- who blew him off in the end.

He must have had a blank look on his face because Jessie said, "CHIPS is our medevac chopper. It's equipped with heat-seeking equipment, electronic mapping, medical equipment -- the whole nine yards. It's parked at our rendezvous helipad." She tugged on Brad's harness, adjusting the fit like another woman would adjust a tie.

They disembarked on a plateau that was in the middle of nowhere according to Jessie. Brad wouldn't have known it; the plateau was lit up like the Fourth of July, a line of snowmobiles idling to one side. A blast of cold air hit him, making him thankful for the jacket.

Jessie tapped his arm. "This way." She led him around the helicopter they'd just landed in. Behind it was the smaller helicopter, CHIPS. It, too, had its propellers going.

Jessie swung open the back door and plugged in her headset.

"Hey guys," she said. "We've got company tonight."

She indicated that Brad should take the rear-facing seat, and showed him where to plug in his headset. She introduced him to "Pilot Sam" and "Navigator Rick."

"Brad's been hanging out with us and couldn't resist sticking around for the real thing." Jessie settled herself into the seat across from Brad.

A pair of lit-up computer screens in front of Rick caught Brad's attention. "How does that work?"

As if in response to his inquiry, a voice came over the radio. "Checking all systems ... all teams power up."

Lights began blinking on the computer screen. "Every team has a transmitter as well as GPS on their radio," Rick explained. "We can track them from above and the mission coordinator can track them from the base site."

Brad found himself riveted to the lights on the screen as the teams responded one by one: "Ready on Alpha." "Ready on Bravo." "Ready on Charlie ..."

It took him several minutes to realize what the words meant. "Team names?"

Jessie nodded. "Based on the military alphabet. That was the team leader, Dan, calling for the ready-check."

Finally Rick spoke into his mouthpiece. "We have audio and visual on all teams. We are ready to rock and roll."

"Ditto on the ground," another voice said. "Move out!"

The helicopter began to rise as snowmobiles passed it on the right. Out the rear window panel, Brad watched as the launch pad and snowmobile lights disappeared from view. "How do you know where to look?" he asked.

"Sometimes we don't," Rick said. "But in this case, we have fairly reliable information about where they are."

"If we didn't, we may have been put on standby until the ground teams found them -- or first light," Jessie said.

"Or if the weather was really crappy," Rick added.

"Here. Make yourself useful." Jessie was holding something that looked like a cross between binoculars and 3-D glasses. "They're night-vision goggles."

Brad wasn't sure what he was looking for but it felt better to be contributing, so he strapped the goggles on and peered out the window at the ground below. His thoughts drifted to the woman across from him…

Their chance encounter at the reunion had stuck with him after he returned to his new job in Dallas. He tried to forget the way she touched his lapel when she said, "I never would have guessed you for advertising; I didn't think that would give you fulfillment." And the way her eyes searched his when she teased him about being shallow.

And then he lost his job.

And the self-doubt -- was he the reason they'd lost the account? -- started eating at him. He'd been drinking himself to devastation every night, but it hadn't made him feel any better. If anything, that brief conversation with Jessie came to mind more often. So, on a half-drunken whim, he'd driven from Dallas to her home state of Colorado, intending to put her "shallow" comment to rest.

But the conversation didn't go the way he'd envisioned it ...

"Team Foxtrot has a visual." The voice cut into Brad's thoughts, jarring him back to the present. He wasn't sure how long they'd been flying.

"Cannot confirm it's our target," the voice continued. "We'll check it out."

"Are we close enough?" Sam said.

Rick was studying a map on one of the computer screens. "That's southwest of us about 20 miles," he said. "If it's not legit, we can circle back easily and still cover prime terrain."

It was Sam's turn to radio. "CHIPS to back up Foxtrot." He swung the chopper around.

"Affirmative, Chips II."

"Who's on Foxtrot?" Rick asked.

"That would be Micah and Ryan," Jessie said. Brad had just had a long conversation about stock car racing with Ryan, a young Vietnamese-American who was full of jokes.

Fifteen minutes later Rick said, "We're coming up on Foxtrot."

"They look stationary," Jessie said. "I have a visual on their objective ... looks like a wreck, all right."

Well, if you want to read more, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't--I'm guessing everyone will be rushing right out to snag a copy of this one--why don't you leave a comment for Tracey? She's on a blog tour this month, and will be selecting a random commenter as the winner of a copy of Last Chance Rescue.

Either drop Tracey a line telling her what you liked about her postings or share your own transportation story--bike, plane, train, dirigible, camel, whatever--if it gets you from here to there, it counts.

Don't miss your Last Chance to win...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Feed Your Addiction

In the past few weeks, we've celebrated Teen Read Week. Tomorrow is National Bookstore Day. And this month is NaNo, National Novel Writing Month. With all this emphasis on writing and writers, it's evident that people care about books and reading. Most of us wouldn't be writers if it weren't for our love of reading.

My addiction to reading extends to everything under the sun. I'll even peruse every word on a cereal box if nothing else is handy. As an elementary student, I constantly got in trouble for reading books hidden my desk. And at home I hid under the covers with a flashlight to finish those final pages of an exciting novel. Did you do the same?

Why not share that passion with a favorite teen?

Leap Books is offering online Exclusives--free mini-books with pages that turn--all zooped up with fun graphics to enhance the reading experience. Share them with your favorite teens, or enjoy them yourself.

Many websites offer book excerpts to whet your appetite. Others offer short stories to showcase their writers' work. Some of our Susquehanna Writers have free reads or book excerpts online. I hope they'll post the links to share the fun. And feel free to leave links for your favorite free online reads, so we can check them out. The only thing readers like better than reading is sharing books they've enjoyed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Almost NaNoWriMo time again

by Cate Masters

Well I missed National Writing Day on October 22, probably due to a lack of national advertising on the part of its sponsors. Had I known the Senate would pass S.R. 310, I would have put pen to paper that day come Hell or high water (and lately, it's been Hell, but that's another story).
Hell notwithstanding, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo again. Yep, I enlisted in the ranks of those who'll write fast and furious starting tomorrow, November 1, aiming for that golden 50,000-word bar. I may not make it this year, but I'll at least try. I've had a contemporary gelling in my head for awhile, clamoring to get out.
Last year, I finally wrote the historical novel I had in my head since visiting Key West in 2003. Freya's Bower will release Angels, Sinners and Madmen. I'm currently in first edits, so have no date yet, but likely it will release in early 2010.
NaNoWriMo's great for forcing your focus to one story, something I normally struggle to master. A dozen or so stories have been clamoring for attention, but starting tomorrow, a shiny new one will take priority.
How about you? Are you up for the challenge?

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Midtown Scholar bookstore celebrates inaugural event with giveaway

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore will celebrate the first national National Bookstore Day with a giveaway basket of books by central Pennsylvania authors known collectively as The Susquehanna Writers.
Central Pennsylvanians named The Midtown Scholar as the region’s top independent bookstore for six years running.
Publishers Weekly encouraged independent bookstores across the country to celebrate their vibrant culture. Midtown Scholar patrons will have the opportunity to win a basket full of great reads such as:
• The Yellow Stone by T.M. Crone
• It Came from Beyond the Sun by Mike Silvestri (mystery)
• Thy Kingdom Come by Don Helin (military thriller)
• One Soul for Sale by Cate Masters (dark fantasy)
• Picture This by Cate Masters (contemporary women’s fiction)
• The Greater Good by Susan Kelley (fantasy), plus a jeweled book thong
• Spark of Magic by Lily Stone (fantasy; in PDF format on CD)
• Night of the Walrus by Dennis Royer (mystery)
The Midtown Scholar Bookstore has hosted author events for several members of The Susquehanna Writers, including Don Helin and Mike Silvestri. Readers can learn more information about The Susquehanna Writers at
Bookstore representative Catherine Lawrence agreed to host the giveaway to help the listed authors promote their works and to encourage customers to celebrate National Bookstore Day. “Like other independent bookstores, the Midtown Scholar provides a vital service to the community. We hope residents will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to support local authors and learn about all the Midtown has to offer.”
No purchase is required to enter the giveaway. To enter, visit the Midtown Scholar Bookstore at 1302 North Third Street (across from Broad Street Market) in Harrisburg. The drawing will take place on Nov. 21.
Visit the store online at
Below is a photo of the basket (pumpkin not included).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop to host SW giveaway

The Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop will celebrate the first national National Bookstore Day with a giveaway basket of books by The Susquehanna Writers.

Publishers Weekly encouraged independent bookstores across the country to celebrate their vibrant culture. Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop patrons will have the opportunity to win a basket full of great reads such as:
Bark of the Tree by Mike Silvestri (mystery)
Thy Kingdom Come by Don Helin (military thriller)
One Soul for Sale by Cate Masters (dark fantasy)
Picture This by Cate Masters (contemporary women’s fiction)
The Greater Good by Susan Kelley (fantasy), plus a jeweled book thong
Summer Lovin’ YA anthology
Diverse Divorce by Lisa Lawmaster Hess (nonfiction)
Acting Assertively by Lisa Lawmaster Hess (nonfiction)
• Plus a $10 gift certificate to Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop from award-winning author Carmen McKee
The Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop has hosted author events for several members of The Susquehanna Writers, including Don Helin, Dennis Royer and Mike Silvestri.
Book store owner Debbie Beamer agreed to host the giveaway to help the listed authors promote their works and to encourage customers to celebrate National Bookstore Day. “The independent bookstore provides a vital service to the community. Residents should take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to support our local writers.”
No purchase is required to enter the giveaway. Visit the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Store at 6 Clouser Road, on the corner of Trindle Road in Mechanicsburg, to enter. The drawing will take place on Nov. 22.
Visit the store online at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, the writing blues

The writing life is tough. Finding an agent for "Gene Linked," a home for my short stories, and sinking my imagination into my current writing project hasn't been easy. Between preparing lectures for my teaching responsibilities and seeing to my children's needs and emotions, there is little time left at the end of the day. What happened to hobbies? What's to become of the unfinished sweater I'm knitting or the scrapbook of last year's vacation which sits on my workbench undone? Who's been weeding my gardens? Not to mention the many, wonderful books I have yet to read. Life was simple once, before cell phones, organized travel sports, TV clickers, computers ... email. Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was not too much to do--but to write.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

What do the Bible, Mein Kampf, Harry Potter, Lady Chatterly's Lover, Doctor Zhivago, Grapes of Wrath, and Alice in Wonderland have in common? Well, for starters, they've all become classics. But they also have another common link. At one time or another, someone sought to ban them.

Books are often banned for their contents, but how many have been banned for their covers? Seems that’s the problem author Bonnie J. Doerr is facing.

The cover in question is on Island Sting (Leap Books, January 2010). Doerr, a former Science teacher, planned her fast-paced eco-mystery series for classroom use. Each book in the series features a different endangered animal and is accompanied by lesson plans for use across the curriculum. Doerr, who won a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) grant for her first book to be used in environmental education, did in-depth, on-location research for each book, and many educators have praised the book’s content.

But will her new, edgy cover mean that rather than supplementing the science curriculum, the book will be banned by schools?

If some teachers have their way, it will.

The teachers’ objections? Bullet holes and blood. Some cited school shootings and violence as a reason for not wanting this book in the classroom.

No author wants a reputation for promoting violence. But what if the book in question is about violence? In this case, a poacher is killing the endangered Key deer. The background of the cover is designed to resemble the Caution: Endangered Animal Area signs found in Key West, Florida, the book’s location. The bullet holes suggest the danger as do the swerving tire tracks and fleeing deer tracks.

So the cover seems appropriate for the subject matter. And Leap Books queried teens about the cover and found it particularly attracted the interest of teens who indicated that they rarely read. Here's hoping teachers recant and select the book for its content. They might be pleasantly surprised to find reluctant readers snatching up the book. And isn't that every teacher's goal--to get students to read more?