Saturday, December 24, 2011

History of A Christmas Carol

On Dec. 19, 1843, Charles Dickens first published one of the most widely known holiday stories, A Christmas Carol. I dug around a bit to find the origins of this tale, and although widely diverging versions exist, one of the most reliable seems to be from PBS’s A Writer’s Almanac.

According to them, Dickens was inspired to write A Christmas Carol after reading a disturbing news story about child labor in England. He went to Cornwall to see for himself the horrible conditions of child workers in the mines there. He then visited the free schools set up for poor children. Seeing the terrible situation of children in poverty made him so angry, he decided to write a book exposing it, and publish it at his own expense. The original title was A Christmas Carol in Prose. Shown is a first edition.

The plot is as familiar as Christmas cookies. Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean old miser, goes through a life transformation during Christmas, a holiday he scorned: "Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." But after three visits from spirits, he sheds his hardened exterior and throws open his arms to embrace others at the end: "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody!"

Timing was ripe for Dickens to publish A Christmas Carol. In the 17th century, the Puritans declared the holiday illegal, citing the fact that the Bible never gave the date of Christ’s birth. Thus, they deemed it a pagan celebration.

But Christmas enjoyed a resurgence in England in 1840, when Queen Victoria married a German prince, Albert. German traditions like Christmas trees became popular again in England.

A Christmas Carol showed Christmas as a time for family and for sharing simple pleasures. Some still viewed celebrates such as parties, dancing and drinking and playing games, dangerously close to Pagan rituals. But Dickens' vision of Christmas still inspires many to keep the Christmas spirit alive.

One of my favorite versions stars Patrick Stewart.

Last Christmas, I bought the Disney DVD with Jim Carrey, which seems a nice halfway version between The Muppets Christmas Carol and the stern old black and white version.

Of all the remakes, which is your favorite?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Early Christmas

It seems ever year for the past four, I've had a new book come out right before or right after Christmas. It does make the holidays a little hectic with trying to promote and still be the mover and organizer of all family celebrations of the season.  But it's fun.

I'm pleased to announce the release of the third book in my Tigers of Salubria fantasy romance series, A Tiger's Courage.  My publishers, New Concepts Publishing, one of the first and most successful ebook publishers, has really outdone themselves with the book cover on this book.  ATC is a romance, of course, but they did such a great job inserting the desert setting into the cover art, it really sets the tone for the book. And the font they used for the title and my name is very unusual and cool.

So in between getting out some last minute Christmas cards (okay, all of them) shopping for the last few things, (some of them as yet unknown), planning for the big family gathering(no cookies baked yet) and scrambling to catch up with the day job, I'll be promoting A Tiger's Courage here and there over the holiday season.

So what do you think of the book cover? Do you have a favorite setting for a novel?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The end of the book as we know it? or, SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS, now available on Kindle

I remember the days when I spent my afternoons in the library, searching through books, selecting a pile to take home, and the looks from the librarian who thought I would never finish them all in two weeks. Many of those libraries are closed now, and the book stores sprung up in the neighborhoods. But within a few short decades, they saw their demise.

The closing of major book stores leaves a gap in my soul. What is to become of the book? The time I've spent browsing, sniffing pages and reading back covers in book stores could be culminated into years. (not to mention gaping at the front covers) For some avid readers and writers, there is no better time, and it is something that could only be understood by others who pursue the same past time.

Buying a book is easier now. It is only one-click away on Amazon. There is no reason to leave home, or to get off that seat anymore. And I have to admit being able to read in a dark room with a glowing Kindle on my lap has its appeal. I never go anywhere without it. The bag I carry to my child's soccer game, my purse, my brief case--they must all be large enough to carry the Kindle.

SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS: An Anthology of Scifi, Fantasy and other Strange Tales, is an anthology of my previously published short stories that can be found on It is now available in Kindle format for those who don't want to leave their seat in order to buy a book.

The book is not dying, it never will. But the major publishers have initiated their own downfall, and until they open their eyes and crawl out of their holes, the book will continue to transform.

SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS is now available in Kindle format at

Writers Tricks of the Trade

Hi Everyone: I'm sorry I've been absent for awhile but holiday travels plus trying to market the manuscript from my latest novel has made for a wild time.

I wanted to share that the December issue of Writers Tricks of the Trade from my friend Morgan St. James is out
Morgan is a multi-published author and has put together a terrific newsletter. The second segment from my notes from the Donald Maass Workshop I attended at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers conference is in there as well as a wealth of other material to help aspiring and published authors.

I highly recommend you subscribe. Each Month it keeps getting better. Don

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ground Rules releases today!

My Christmas fantasy, Ground Rules, is now out with The Wild Rose Press! Yay! I love holiday stories, especially when they include a little Christmas magic, and a snarky angel.

Here's the blurb:
Can a bad boy angel and a dispirited mortal find a Christmas miracle together?
Alice Garner scores a great contract to illustrate a children’s book by a famous author, but lack of inspiration forces her to cancel her holiday plans. Alone on Christmas to meet her looming deadline, Alice wishes on her Christmas tree angel for help.
Luke, newly promoted to Watcher Angel, is reluctant to take the assignment. Long ago, his fiancĂ©e broke his mortal heart on Christmas Eve, and even returning to Earth on his Harley won’t dull the sting. Good thing the ground rules forbid getting involved with an assignment—Alice is tempting, but he’d rather not stay on Earth.
But Luke brings Alice more than inspiration. He reawakens her heart. Now Alice has to convince him he’s her greatest wish. With a little Christmas magic, can she convince him to break the ground rules and stay?

Friday, November 25, 2011

TBR – a new blog to find new reads

I regularly host authors on my blog, but wanted to provide a place that would feature them more prominently. So I created TBR. The site’s still in construction, as you can see, and won’t officially launch until the new year, but in order for it to launch, I need the participation of authors.

I would love to feature your work on TBR.

To book a guest date on TBR, first check the available dates listed under the 2012 Schedule tab. After selecting a date, email me at tbrtheblog [at] to reserve yours. The new year's approaching fast, so I'll be putting an open invitation out on the general loops, but if you want to reserve a date, just let me know when and I'll gladly list your name beside it.

I'm hoping to make this a nurturing community for authors and readers alike, but to do that, I'll need followers and lots of them. I hope you'll support TBR with a follow, and perhaps help promote it after it launches on January 2.

You can also grab the blog badge shown here (and on the site's main page, top left), by right-clicking your mouse and selecting the “Save As” option, then (in Blogger) add it under Gadgets as a Picture with the link

Help spread the word about TBR! And visit often to find great reads.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Know When to Walk Away

I finished the first draft of my novel on Saturday, meeting my NaNoWriMo goal nearly two weeks early. I hadn't started this novel on November 1; I had, in fact been working on it in one form (synopsis, new pages) or another (critique group, revisions) for three years.

While it wasn't the only thing I wrote in three years, it did take up a lot of my writing time. In addition, it lurked in my subconscious throughout those three years as I worked out where those characters would go and what they would do and what would happen after they did it.

Even though I've typed "THE END," I know it isn't. I'm not satisfied with the last chapter, and it's been so long since I've read some of the earlier chapters, I'm sure there's work to do there as well. Add to that the fact that this draft is well over the desired word count, and I know that serious cutting and revisions lie ahead.

And so now, the hardest thing to do is the thing I know I have to do: leave it alone. Let it rest. Fight the urge to tweak this and twist that, to cut scenes wholesale so those numbers end up closer to where I want them.

And if I do leave it alone (as I should), what will I do? Resurrect an old project? Create a backlog of blogs? Start something new altogether?

A few weeks ago, before I realized that I'd hit this goal quite so quickly, I thought I knew exactly which project I would return to. But what seemed so tempting then seems less enticing now. I find myself having tremendous difficulty walking away from the characters who have populated the page in front of me for so long.

So, to my fellow writers of fiction: what do you do after you finish your first draft?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wrap Up

Many readers love to read series.  Lots of writers enjoy writing series.  I personally fit both profiles. 

In my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles, the books are a continuous story.  The same characters are the main protagonists throughout all four books.  They're fighting the same battle from the first page until the last chapter.  Like in most epic fantasy series, you enjoy the books more if you read them in order. 
 My romance series, on the other hand, while it takes place in the same dystopian world, can be enjoyed not matter what order you read them in.  In fact, if you read the last book in the series first, One Good Woman, you'll hopefully want to read the books preceding it.  The Greater Good started the series followed by The Lesser Evil and A Ruthless Good.  The hero of One Good Woman, Brady Gellot, was introduced in The Lesser Evil but the heroine of OGW, Cara, first appeared in The Greater Good.  She was of those strong but vulnerable women you can't help but love.

My publisher is offering a One Good Woman at a special low price of only $1.99 starting today.  For that price, I hope lots of you can try out this romance series and read Brady's and Cara's story. 

I like four book series though I'm a fan of some very, very long fantasy book series.  How long do you think a book series should be?  Are you willing to try a new author if the price is right like that reasonable $1.99?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Path to Publication panel

Thanks again to Catherine Lawrence at The Midtown Scholar for organizing such a wonderful event - the Second Annual Harrisburg Book Festival. We look forward to many more such events in the future. The Midtown's an amazingly beautiful venue, and I encourage you to visit.

If you're interested in buying our books, many of us have left several copies on hand at The Midtown Scholar.

Below are some pictures from yesterday's panel titled The Path to Publication. Special thanks to Don Helin for helping to organize it!

The Path to Publication panelists: Franklin Kury, Susan Gourley, Lorrie Myers, Don Helin, and Cate Masters

Susan Gourley

Franklin Kury

Lorrie Myers

Cate Masters

Tomorrow I'll post the text of my presentation on ebooks on my blog, expanded to cover the topic of blogging basics, as time constraints didn't allow me to cover it yesterday.

Thanks again to all who attended this wonderful event.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Speculative Journeys: An Anthology of SciFi, Fantasy and other Strange Tales

Short Stories are a hard sell. Not only are there very few markets, but also many of the markets fade in and out of existence faster than my daughter's crushes. It is for the most part a one time deal. Publishers want first time rights. Your story is bought, published for a spell, and then the rights are returned to the author. This makes for a crowded filing cabinet. Very few markets, if any, buy second rights. So, there are two options. The first, you can keep the story in the filing cabinet where nobody will ever read it again, or you can take it upon yourself to republish the stories and increase your readership.

That is why I chose to publish SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS: An Anthology of SciFi, Fantasy and other Strange Tales. Explore the strange and endless possibilities of the future. How desperate will humans become? Where will exploration, science and politics lead us? What will be the warning signs of the end? Regardless of where you go to seek answers, a distant moon, the back streets of a dystopian society, a grave, the stories in SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS will keep you wandering.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Release day for Romancing the Hero!

I'm so excited - release day's finally here! Today, The Wild Rose Press released Romancing the Hero, a contemporary fantasy, as part of its Faery Rose line. Romancing the Hero's a novella, but its 70 pages are packed with fun and romance. And oh yeah, I can't forget mayhem. It's nearly as much fun as the romance!

Here's the excerpt:

“Jody Feather?” The deep voice rushed at her like a hot breeze, reverberated through her, and stopped her where she stood.

“Ye—” Her gaze climbed the long legs clad in well-fitting jeans, pumped torso outlined through his tight tee, to the gorgeous model face. Someone might have stolen a cardboard cutout of the perfect hero and breathed life into it, and that’s who stood on her doorstep.

“Yowsa,” she said on an exhale.

He cocked a delighted brow. “Pardon?”

“May I help you?” Please say yes.

“I believe it’s the other way around.”

“Really?” Thankyouthankyouthankyou! “I mean… what do you mean?”

The timbre of his deep voice filled the space between them. “I’m here to help. Use me.”

Wait. This had to be a prank. “I get it. Mimi sent you.”

His brow furrowed. “Mimi? No.”

Patience waning, she heaved a sigh. “Who are you?”

“I think you know.” He leaned a ripped bicep against the doorjamb in a move that seemed scripted—by her.

“No. Tell me.”

“Jake? Ring a bell?”

She might have guessed. “Oh right. Jake Emerson?”

He clucked his tongue. “The one and only. I knew you’d recognize me anywhere.”

“Even at my own condo. Go figure. So why are you here? As a prop for the signing?” Damn, he fit the role perfectly, too. She couldn’t have picked a better actor. She jotted another note to ask Mimi if he could pose for the next cover. A cardboard cutout would be perfect for signings.

“Is that what you need?” he asked with a hint of disappointment.

She peered past him. “No bags?”

“I travel light.”

“Didn’t she tell you? There are several events. Dinner, the keynote, plus the signing itself. You might want a change of clothes.” Though if anyone could pull off wearing the same outfit every day, he could. She could claim it was Jake’s brand, his image, an intentional move to make him recognizable to conference attendees. Mimi always droned on about the brand, the brand.

Besides, who’d notice his clothes? They only wrapped the prize beneath. And what a yummy prize. She had to hand it to Mimi, the marketing genius.

Musing aloud, she murmured, “Where did they find you?”

“They didn’t. I’m Jake.”

“Right. And I’m Lara Croft.” Not even her Halloween costume could turn her into the sexy heroine.

He chuckled. “You’re better than that bimbo.”

Oh boy. “Let’s not get carried away, shall we? It’s temporary.”

“Why? Do you plan to kill me off?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve read the series.” All that and a reader to boot.

“I don’t need to read it. I live it.”

His devilish smile almost blocked out his words, which hit her like a slap.

Yikes. “Listen, Mr…” Rolling her hand, she prompted him to finish.


Method actor, apparently. She’d play along for now. “Sure. Mr. Emerson.”

A car horn sounded outside.

“The taxi.” And she hadn’t remembered whatever she’d forgotten. Too late now. “Give me two seconds.” She hurried to grab her jacket.

“Take all the time you need, baby.”

The endearment brought her to a screeching halt. “Hold on. I get that you’re ‘Jake Emerson’ but when we’re together, address me as Ms. Feather. I am not your baby.” Or anyone else’s, unfortunately. After this weekend, she’d change that.

His mouth curled down in a brief frown. “Pity.”

“Give it a rest.” She’d written this scene in the second novel, when Jake first meets that leading lady. How many scenes had he studied? Hopefully he wouldn’t reenact too many. Sure, she loved her work, but not so much she wanted to live it. Except for certain parts, like the shower scene in book three… You don’t have time for this.

After grabbing her bag, she said a quick goodbye to Frank. “It’s only for the weekend. See you Monday.” She glanced at the man waiting at her door. “Tuesday at the outside.” Never rule out any possibilities. Her parents taught her that. And she’d made it Jake’s motto, one of the reasons fans loved him. Time to make it her own motto as well.

The saying had given her the strength to leap from journalism into fiction. If they only knew what she considered leaping into now… well, she was old enough to face those consequences. And enjoy them while they lasted.

Holding a hand to his sculpted abs, he bowed. “May I carry your bag, Ms. Feather? Or are you too liberated for such a show of chivalry?”

Wiseass. He had that aspect of Jake down pat. “Please. Take it, with my gratitude.” It gave her a chance to follow him down the walkway, and admire his rippling biceps and tight end, made more luscious by his swagger. She paid particular attention. She had to, or she wouldn’t be able to describe it in all its vital deliciousness in a later novel.

Oh yeah, she loved being a writer.

Get your copy today from The Wild Rose Press!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Navigating the Retail Sea

My blog photo makes me sad. When I first posted it, several months after a book signing at my local Borders, the only problem I had with it was that I had no idea who the lady in the background was/is, and I had no idea how to crop her put of the picture. Now, the problem is that the setting no longer exists. Our Borders has been closed for about a month.

As we stood waiting for a taxi outside Penn Station in New York last weekend, we couldn't miss the big, empty storefront where the Borders used to be. Shopping at a nearby mall last Friday night, I found a Books A Million where the Borders used to be. I lingered at the door momentarily, but didn't venture in.

At Target yesterday, I enjoyed browsing the well-lit, neatly arranged book section, which
seemed bigger than it had been before our Borders - just down the street - closed its doors. My daughter, who is a voracious reader - found quite a lot to pique her interest.
Trendy series and books by popular authors graced the shelves alongside works by authors famous for their writing skills as well as those famous for less literary reasons. We left with four books, which my daughter will no doubt devour within two weeks.

What then? As long as she wants to read the hot and trendy titles, we should have no problem keeping her bedside table well-stocked. And for the more obscure titles, well, there's always Amazon, or a half hour road trip to our closest Barnes and Noble.

But within five minutes of our house, there is a small, independent bookstore. When we first bought our house 17 years ago, this bookstore not only had a twin across town, but it also occupied a much larger retail space, with a beautiful - and beautifully stocked - children's section. Some time ago, however, its twin closed, and the store closer to o our home moved to a more intimate location. I don't remember whether or not this coincided with Borders' opening, but against all odds, this small, local store remains, tucked away in a strip mall, surviving with less than half of the space, stock and clout that Borders

And as much as I know how this blog should end - with the loyal, local author reformed and making her purchases at the underdog bookstore - the bottom line is that the number of books we purchase makes this conclusion unlikely. Has the demise of Borders awakened my sense of duty, nudging me to make sure that at least some of my purchases are transferred to this independent bookseller? Yes. But when Target and Amazon discount their books, and Barnes and Noble sends me coupons, it's tough to plunk down full cover price in a small store that will probably have to special order the title I want because their inventory is so small and select. And they can't afford to make that inventory any larger because even people like me, who recognize the importance of their fiesty little business are turning to giants like Amazon because they ship books to my doorstep.

I don't know what the answer is. As much as I hate the fact that the whale that swallowed up so many small bookstores has now sunk into the depths of the retail sea, and as much as I champion - and admire - the minnows that remain, buying all my books as full price special orders just isn't going to happen.

So talk to me. Please. Tell me what your answer is, because while I know I will make a renewed effort to visit that miraculous minnow of a bookstore, I know that all of my purchases won't transfer there.

Not as long as there are discounts and door-to-door service.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Giveaway

Do you have room for a free book? As a promotion for the re-release of The Keepers of Sulbreth, book#1 in an epic fantasy series, I'm giving away a precious print copy to one lucky winner in the book-a-day giveaway over at The Romance Studio.

I know The Keepers of Sulbreth isn't a romance novel, but TRS is such a great promotional site I wanted to get the title of my book in front of all those users of that great destination.  And if you must have a romance, there are numerous romantic subplots in the series.  Not all have happy endings, however.

Do you enter book contests? Have you ever won?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2nd Annual Harrisburg Book Festival

Hi All:
The Midtown Scholar is planning for the 2nd Annual Harrisburg Book Festival the weekend of November 11 - 13. She is thinking that instead of a huge group of writers and tables, it might be better to gather a group of published authors to participate on a panel from 12:30 to 1:30 on Saturday, November 12th.
We'd have to develop a theme, but she is thinking along the lines of improving your writing or how to get published.
Catherine has asked me to coordinate a panel. Are there any of you who might want to participate. Please let me know.
Thanks, Don Helin

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All aboard the crazy train!

I didn't think it possible, but life got crazier. Waaaay crazier. And it necessitates my time online growing even shorter than before.

I hate to skim through loop emails, but now even skimming's going to be rare, though I really miss keeping in touch with all the wonderful authors on the loops. And please accept my apologies in advance for not visiting blogs as often as I used to. I'll do my best to keep up, but until the end of the year, it's going to be really tough.

Which brings me to the final boarding stop for the crazy train: should I attempt NaNoWriMo? If I'm going to get any writing done at all, I need to carve out chunks of time dedicated to that, and only that (and if need be, wield that carving knife against intruders! Just kidding... I think!)

Last year, I couldn't participate in NaNoWriMo because hubby and I belatedly and deservedly celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (three years late, to be exact!) by going on a ten-day cruise. As much as I loved it, I really missed writing. And I missed the challenge of NaNoWriMo.

This year, as crazy as life has been, I may just sign up again. It will be with the foreknowledge that I won't make it to 50k, but my philosophy is: nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'll end up with more done than I would have if I don't sign up, so signing up will force me to be more structured with my time. Theoretically, at least. :)

How do you handle time constraints? Share your tricks!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Are Published Writers Divas?

If I'd had a crystal ball, I would have made a prediction about an anthology I've been editing. Several well-known authors have contributed stories. Very exciting, except I was worried about dealing with divas.

And I definitely am.

They fight every suggestion made by me or the other editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. Even when five people on the editorial team insist something isn't working, they totally ignore the suggestions. They skip over requests for edits, so the manuscript has to be sent back multiple times requesting the same rewrites. They're so tied to their words that they argue about even small changes. Exactly what I was expecting, except...

The writers who are doing this are NOT the big-name authors.

The multi-published authors are a dream to work with. They turn in their edits on time and do a wonderful job on any requested rewrites, making the story stronger each time. They say "thank you" for the suggestions and say that the edits have improved the story. And every single one of them ends with a final line something like this: "If this doesn't work, please let me know, and I'll be glad to rewrite it."

So who are these divas I'm working with? They're the pre-published writers, the newbies, the ones who have had two magazine stories published in local magazines. They're the ones who are so puffed up about being included in an anthology with "real" authors that they cling doggedly to every word, every idea. "If this story was good enough to get me accepted, it should be ready to publish as is" is their mantra. They fail to realize that most editors accept on potential, not perfection. And sadly, they're making a name for themselves as being hard to work with, which may mean this could be their only shot at publication.

So while my peek into the crystal ball was accurate, the details were murky. I've learned that far from being divas, published authors are willing to work at their craft and seek ways to improve what they write. Which, most likely, is the real reason they're published.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Epic Fantasy for Kindle

After weeks of editing and preparation, I finally have my book, The Keepers of Sulbreth, available on Kindle.  I want to thank Cate Masters for all her help and advice on this great venture.

A few months ago my publisher broke my contract for my epic fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles.  They had already released the first book, The Keepers of Sulbreth, and made a half effort at releasing the second book, Beyond the Gate.  They had the third book under contract.  This publisher had no clue about promotion and was taking leaps in different directions each month as they tried to guess where the media business was going next.  I asked for all my rights back and fortunately they surrendered them without fuss.  I'm sure I'll never see any royalties I've earned from them but at least my books have a chance of reaching the reading public now.

The Keepers of Sulbreth begins the tale of Cage Stone as he accepts his heritage as a half-elf and uses his extraordinary skills to lead the battle against the centuries old evil that had been awakened on Futhark.  Aiding his quest is Sabelline Shelton, a gifted sorceress, and the young king of Futhark, Jonared Shelton.  Cage discovers his destiny is tied to the survival of not only the kingdom but the entire human race and his sword alone won't defeat the dread being behind the war for man's survival.

The Keepers of Sulbreth received excellent reviews when first released.  If you've all ready enjoyed this book, I hope you'll pass the word along as promotion is the biggest obstacle facing self-pubbed authors.

Have you purchased and read any self-pubbed books? Would you consider doing the same yourself or have you already?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week

I'm celebrating Banned Books Week this week by having a giveaway on my blog - pop on over to check it out! All you need to do to win is leave a comment on that post along with your email address.

The Uprise Project is celebrating in a more meaningful way. It's building a web site that will be used to distribute banned and challenged books to impoverished teens across the country. But they need our help. Read more about their mission here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aarrgh, It's Talk Like a Pirate Day...

So for all you pirate lovers out there...

Did you know Aarrgh! means something entirely different than Arrr! I learned that Aarrgh! is what you say if you get run through with a sword. But Arrr! means yes. It's important to keep them straight, but even more vital to practice your parrying so you'll never need to shout Aarrgh!

In addition to learning pirate lingo, you may be interested in finding out about some of the swashbuckling sailors of yore. One of my personal favorites in the pirate world is Dragon Lady. But there are many more worthy of your attention.

So me hearties, if ye wish to learn more about pirates or sailing the seven seas, you’ve only to pick up Pirates Through the Ages.

Lots of great characters inside…

If I do say so meself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fantastic lineup for writers' workshop

The Mechanicsburg Mystery Book and Gift Shop is sponsoring a great one-day workshop. Called Murder As You Like It, it's a full day of sessions any writer can benefit from.

Murder As You Like It
9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church
5000 Simpson Ferry Road
Mechanicsburg, PA

Download the brochure and register today! If you register before Sept. 10, you'll save a few dollars, but the price is incredibly low even at $10.

You won't want to miss these authors:
Cordelia Frances Biddle
Chris Grabenstein
Kathryn Miller Haines
Don Helin
Larry Kerr
Valerie Malmont
Paul Malmont
Alan Orloff
Marta Perry
Dennis Royer
Eleana Santangelo
J.D. Shaw
Mike Silvestri
Maria V. Snyder
David R. Stewart

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reprieve for some Borders stores

At least 14 Borders stores will be given a new lease on life. Books A Million sought court approval for the takeover, and a judge approved the decision on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Books A Million will take control of all 14 stores by October 1.

Most of the stores are located in the Northeast and will actually expand into New England, said Publishers' Weekly.

So while it's sad to lose Borders, it's a relief to know another book chain will be taking over some, at least.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just for fun - lavender recipes

While writing The Magic of Lavender, I came across so many delicious recipes for dishes using lavender, I thought it would be cool to create a companion recipe book. It's free from Smashwords, but Amazon wouldn't let me charge less than 99 cents, so if you'd like a copy for your Kindle, just email me at cate.masters AT and I'll send you the prc file.

So now you can create the same lavender dishes exclusive to Lavender Hill Inn. Joss Gibson's grandmother handed these recipes down to her, knowing full well it would draw the fae to the establishment.

I make no such claim about these lavender recipes. I only know that your life will be sweeter if you make these specialty dishes for your family! And yourself, of course.

Though you may not be related to a goddess like my heroine, you can still be a goddess in the kitchen with these recipes!

And while you're sipping down a lavender lemonade (or a lavender margarita!), and maybe soaking your feet in a lavender foot bath, why not sample The Magic of Lavender? With its delectable heroine and yummy hero, it's sure to sate your appetite in other ways. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It has to be said

Piracy is a romanticized term for illegal book sharing. Not only are hackers stealing ebooks to distribute on their own sites, but “book clubs” also offer the chance to read an ebook and pass it on.

Is it any wonder no indie author - whether with an epress or self-pubbed - can catch a break? Or has to work full time at writing, but also a day job just to be able to do what they love?

Not only do ebook authors not get an advance, and receive only a percentage of royalties, but many publishers withhold royalties until a sales reach a certain amount. Sales are further lowered by thieves who siphon off profits with illegal sharing.

And make no mistake about it: it is illegal.

Margaret West cited some disheartening statistics in her recent post. But disheartening doesn’t begin to cover what I felt when I read Tracy L. Darity’s post about CreateSpace allowing resellers to print POD books and sell them at an insanely high price, and when the author fought back by selling at a lower price, snap! the other seller instantly lowered their price to outsell her. Oh, and there’s much more. Read her post, though it may turn your stomach to learn resellers can use POD to sell your book as used, so you the author will never see a profit and John Kremer’s post about how Amazon rips off authors.

So now I have to limit distribution of my Kindle books because resellers will pilfer it. I wondered how some copies of my books were being sold at ridiculously high prices. That’s the reason.

Amazon already forces authors to opt into their lending program, which cuts into profits. Why this media giant needs to rip off small-time authors, I’ll never understand. But I highly discourage readers from using this feature. Like many others, I priced my work below its fair value to encourage readers to buy. I know the economy’s tough. I like free stories too, when authors (and sometimes publishers) make them available as such. Not when others decide they should be free and help themselves.

Worse, some authors are finding their work resold under a different name. Apparently some peole are creative in the worst ways: converting ebooks to text, then putting a new cover on it and slapping their name on the product. Also covered under Mr. Kremer’s post.

I can’t wrap my head around how someone can put so much effort into stealing another person’s hard work. It just boggles my mind. Authors put so much heart and soul into their stories, sometimes years of their lives. And just like that, someone steals it?

Fighting illegal sharing – and Amazon, it seems – is impossible. So my best defense is to educate readers. If you love the books authors write, then please please please never download a book from any sharing site. Please please please give the authors their due by purchasing directly from the publisher, or if the author’s self-pubbed, then use the links they provide. Don’t buy from a reseller. Don’t download a free copy. You’re hurting them more than you know. You may justify it by saying, “it’s only one copy, it won’t impact them” but that’s wrong. Everyone thinks the same thing, and illegally shared copies quickly add up to many many copies. Please thank the author who writes stories you love by legally purchasing their work. And if you want to share their work, recommend your friends buy copies too. But don’t give it away. This business is tough enough. Authors need your support.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Second Annual Celebrate the Book

The second annual Celebrate the Book festival is taking shape.

A Central Pennsylvania Book Festival
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Carlisle Expo Center
100 K Street
Carlisle, Pa 17013
9:00 am to 4:00 pm (doors open at 8:30)

$5 admission for adults
Children 12 & under free

Featuring DAVID BALDACCI, author of Absolute Power, The Camel Club, Split Second, Saving Faith, The Christmas Train, and many more!

Children’s writers & illustrators, local historians, and book resellers will have booths, plus we will have exciting and interesting programs, storyteller & illustrator stage performances, and activity centers aimed at children and all adults. Don’t miss this unique experience.

Festival chair Lynn Hofer can answer questions from authors, venders and others about how to participate - email her at info AT or call 717-440-0869.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Literary star to visit Carlisle

Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-winning author whose works include A Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin, will be part of Dickinson College's Visiting Scholars and Writers Program this year.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m., she'll give a reading at Dickinson's Anita Turin Schlecter Auditorium. On Nov. 30, she'll hold a Q&A session followed by a book signing - details still TBD.

I am so excited. To me, Margaret Atwood is the equivalent of a literary rock star. Her writing defies description, and ranges from her most recent dystopic The Year of the Flood, to speculative to poetry and essays.

Once I learn more details, I'll share them here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rowena Through the Wall by Melodie Campbell

I met Melodie Campbell through Sunny Fraizer's Posse group. Melodie is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada and has recently published a new book, Rowena Through the Wall. She has an impressive resume with over 200 publications, five awards for fiction, and is a great comedy writer. In July, her book hit the Amazon Top 100 list for time travel romance
Her Blurb: "Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me? When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn't count on being kidnapped. The stakes get higher as the men get hotter. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she wants . . . or can she?????

I had a chance to ask Melodie about her book.

(1) Is there anything special you'd like to tell us about Rowena Through the Wall?
I got my start as a comedy writer, and editors have called my fiction "Wacky" and "laugh out loud funny". In Rowena Through the Wall, I set out to write a ripping suspense novel. Instead it decided to become a comic time travel adventure, with outrageously spoofs bodice rippers.

(2) Did any particular event inspire the plot?
Inspired by anxiety. I was sitting at my desk one day, totally overwhelmed with work, family and parental care giving, and thought if I could walk through the wall into another world I would. That night, Rowena got her start.

(3) What are you doing to promote your books?
Lots and lots of guest blogging on both sides of the Atlantic. My publisher is well connected in the social media world for which I am grateful. They have done web-advertising and novel giveaways. Crime Writers of Canada have numerous promotional opportunities and I'm taking advantage of all of them.

(4) What's next for you?
I've just heard from Orca that they will publish The Goddaughter, a comic mob caper set in Hamilton, Canada's Steeltown. It should be out next year.

(5) When you're not writing, what are you doing (hobbies, etc)?
Being General Manger of Crime Writers of Canada keeps me more than busy during the day. I live in Ontario in a two-story mortgage with husband, two kids, and a giant Frankenpoodle. I love fast cars. Lots.

(6) What didn't I ask you that I should have?
I've been a banker, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor, and possibly the worst runway mode ever.

Rowena Through the Wall:
"Hot and Hilarious!"
Midwest Book Review
"Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum" F
ormer editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine.

It's great to know you, Melodie, and I hope we can talk you into coming to central Pennsylvania to do some signings. It would be fun.

Talk About Self-Publishing

Today on my blog, Susan Says, Maria Zannini talks about her timeline from the start of an idea to being published.  Ever wondered if you have the time or knowledge to go this route?  Maria's first book, The Devil to Pay, is available and she did it herself.

Have you ever thought about self-publishing? How long do you think it would take you? Read about Maria's experience.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Revision Workshop

I was going to write another posting about Odyssey then remembered I'd never posted here about the upcoming revision workshop that I'm hosting in September:

Writers Workshop with Timons Esaias

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Fire Hall, 911 Market Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Lunch Included

Cost: $40 Pennwriters members, $52 non-members, $85 become a member (save $22!)

Attendance capped at 20.

More information and registration form here. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bummed About Borders

Hi All: I was really sad to see Borders close all their stores. It's certainly going to change things for writers. I did a number of signings at various Borders and not only is it going to halt signings, many of the Borders were anchor stores for those malls and it's going to hurt those communities. Lori sent around a great article on what happened to Borders and the impact.
For the Fourth Wednesday Writers Group, it means we need to find a new place to meet. I saw Dennis, the manager of the Harrisburg Borders, two nights ago. Nice guy and very supportive of our writers group. He's been with Borders 31 years and now he's out in two months.
Our Group will meet at six o'clock this next Wednesday at the Camp Hill Barnes and Noble to brainstorm where we want to meet from now on. Elaine and I visited four sites and we'll have to talk it through. Any of you who want to join the group, now is your chance to voice what you'd like.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Odyssey Writing Workshop

I got back this weekend from the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What an adventure! Odyssey is a six-week intensive workshop for writers of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and horror). And I mean intensive! Jeanne Cavelos, the director, warns participants not to bring a lot of DVDs, books, or gear for non-writing stuff, because you basically write and eat and occasionally sleep while you're there. That was true for me.

I'll post a few more times in the upcoming days about the workshop, but today I want to highlight the instructors that we had.
  • Jeanne Cavelos is the director and founder. She's a writer and former editor and all around editing wizard.
  • Gary Braunbeck, best known as a horror writer, was our writer-in-residence for the fifth week of the workshop. He was generous beyond belief with his time and an excellent lecturer.
  • Christopher Golden, scheduled to be our first guest lecturer, needed to bow out for health reasons, and was replaced by Elaine Isaak, who gave an inspiring lecture on setting.
  • Theodora Goss, former Odyssey participant, spoke about the importance of voice.
  • Barry B. Longyear lectured on the importance of research and description.
  • Elizabeth Bear's lecture focused on the different ways to plot a story.
  • Our last guest lecturer, editor John Joseph Adams, shared his experience with genre short fiction markets.
Since I was accepted to Odyssey, I've discovered a few other Odyssey graduates living near to me. Any other Odyssey graduates out there in central PA?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tiger's Mate: Print Release

My publisher for my fantasy romance novels released Tiger's Mate in print over the weekend. The ebook came out in April and after doing well in sales New Concepts Publishing decided to offer this second book in the series in print also.

Ebook sales provide the bulk of my book sales but there are still millions of readers who prefer a print book.  Lots of those print lovers are romance readers.  Tiger's Mate follows the tale of another of the legendary Tiger warriors as he makes the trek toward his homeland in the company of the sorceress who holds his soul in her power with a magical bonding curse. 

Do you currently buy more ebooks than print books?  Do you visit bookstores to purchase your books or buy online?

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Blogfest!

Hop on the blog hop for some great giveaways! You can start with mine, if you like. :)

I'm giving away three ebooks. Hop on over to to enter!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Contest by Elizabeth Mueller

Please take a moment and receive a chance for some great prizes.  Read my interview of author Elizabeth Mueller and leave a comment.  She will enter your name in a contest for some great prizes. 

Elizabeth is one of those great jugglers of parenting and building her career as a writer.  Her first book, Darkspell, will be released in the fall.  I expect a hit. 

Visit Susan Says and find out for yourself. 

Do you like reading author interviews?  Has an interview ever inspired you to read the author's book?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just released! Dead to Rights

I'm a little nervous - and a lot excited. My new paranormal, Dead to Rights, is now available on Smashwords and Amazon!

It's been more than a year in the making, but after many polishings, I'm confident it's as ready as possible.

I'm pretty psyched the cover came out so well. And the trailer! What do you think?

Here's an excerpt:

The bus drove all night. I dozed off a few times, but every bump in the road easily roused me. All the while, I couldn’t shake the feeling someone watched me. Had the group’s suspicion of me grown since I’d signed up? It didn’t seem likely, but I had to stay on guard, yet appear innocent. Not an easy feat. On high alert, my brain screamed for me to escape.
To what? I had nowhere to go. My only viable connection so far was Cunningham. Time would reveal the reason, but I guessed it wasn’t anything positive.
With a heavy breath, I scanned the faces of others. Every one slept, or tried to.
My senses pricked to extreme when I saw the man sitting three rows behind, on the opposite side. He stared openly, a strange glow in the whites of his eyes.
I jolted upright, then slumped in my seat. My heart pounded. How freaking weird. Grateful for Ellen’s insistence that we sit together, I feigned settling in to rest. Impossible with him still watching intently. And he was. I didn’t know how I knew, but I’d swear it.
The landscape changed from rural to downright deserted. The bus stopped for gas after the sun glimmered just below the horizon, streaking the clouds above with orange and red. It reminded me of smeared blood.
Blinking, Ellen lifted her head. “Are we there?”
“Not yet.” Sarcasm escaped me in the face of a stalker. Twice more, I’d glanced back, only to meet the same steady gaze. I stopped looking after that. Even if he presented no threat, maybe just looked for a little romance in all the wrong places, I wanted no part of him.
Who the hell was he anyway? He hadn’t attended any of the gatherings. How did he get on the bus, if he hadn’t gone through the process?

And if you get a chance, I've been in the LASR Author Spotlight all week - pop over and say hi! Comments earn chances to win my contemporary, Rock Bottom.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Help Save the Indies!

Today's the day!! Head to your local bookstore and buy a book. Agent Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary has created a buzz for the event on Facebook.

Go and add your name to the attending list, and hie thee to an Indie store this morning, June 25. Details are below.


Saturday, June 25 · 10:00am - 1:00pm


Your local brick and mortar bookstore!

Created By

More Info

Who: You
What: Buy a book (or 4)
Where: Your local bookstore (or Powell's ships)
When: June 25th (the first Saturday of Summer!)
Why: Because we need to support our storefronts. No more obituary section in publishing news, please!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Something Unexpected

Early this month, one of my writing colleagues issued a challenge: write 30,000 words by June 30. Although a more sane person would simply smile, perhaps shake her head and walk away, I did just the opposite. "I'm in!" I typed, before I could change my mind.

It's been an interesting month.This challenge has clearly caused me to write differently, at least some of the time. I'm a discovery writer, refusing to bound to an outline or even a plot line, but most of the time, I write scenes in order. In order to keep getting words on the page, however, I'm finding myself writing scenes out of order, then trying to connect the dots. It is very frustrating at times, but it also has its advantages.

Today, for example. I reached what was supposed to be the end of my writing time, and left my current scene in a good place - one where I could jump in right away the next time I sat down at the computer - or so I hoped anyway.

But then I found that I was just 149 words shy of clearing the 21,000 word mark. Could I write another 149 words? Sure I could. In the scene I'd just left at a good stopping point? Not such a good idea.

So I scrolled down to a scene bit I'd written the other night. In less than ten minutes, I had 176 words, had moved that scene forward and left my original scene just where I wanted it. Neither scene is finished, nor are they yet connected to one another through the chain of scenes that will come in between, but both have left the writing door open.

Overall, this month has reinforced my belief that I am a "write for this block of time" writer, not a "write this many words in a day" writer. Still, it's undeniable that taking this challenge has spurred me to put more words on the page than I would have otherwise.

I guess we all need to try something unexpected every once in a while. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I just received word that Pirates Through the Ages is on the way. Yay!! Can't wait to see how it looks. The editor said it turned out terrific, so I'm excited about holding it in my own two hands. Here's a mock up of the cover.

Looking back, I wondered while I was immersed in it if I'd manage to get it done by the deadline, but I did. Now I'm wondering the same about my latest assignment--5 books due one month apart. What is it about writers that they'll put themselves under this much pressure and agree to practically impossible deadlines, then slog through long hours day after day to produce a book? What is it about this profession that's so compelling? It's obviously not the money. As most writers discover, this isn't a lucrative profession. So what do we get besides the pleasure and excitement of holding a book in our hands?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shadow's Lure in Stores

Hey folks,

At long last, Shadow's Lure is out in stores. I took this photo in my local Borders. As you can see, they also have a few copies of Son.

I hope you enjoy the sequel as much I loved writing it. I'm working hard on book three.


45 ways to blog as a novelist

Hey everybody: My friend, Sunny Fraizer, sent the following website to help novelists learn how to blog effectively. Thought I'd share it with you. Some great ideas:
Hope this helps you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rock Bottom release day!

Woo hoo! I'm so excited that Rock Bottom's now available from Lyrical Press!

What's better than release day?

A wonderful review! Already! Romancing the Book gave Rock Bottom a Lovely Rose, which is a recommended read!

Here's part of the review:

I was captivated by this story just from its blurb. I am a very big music fan and did watch Rock of Love so I found it very interesting to see how an author could make a story from that concept. And Cate Masters did it perfectly! One of the things I am very fond of when I read is the imagery authors try to portrait and Cate does it beautifully. The way she describes the scenery of the house, the hills and sand gives you a perfect picture in your mind. She showed just how important communication is in any relationship, just to say what is on your mind and not assume or guess what the other person might be feeling or thinking. The chemistry, tension and conflicts between the characters were written exceptionally well, made me keep turning the page to see how they were going to resolve some of their issues. She writes a perfect example of forbidden love….knowing you shouldn’t be with that particular person but just can’t deny it and have that inability to say no. It had just the right amount of steamy scenes as well, did not feel thrown in just for the sake of having one like some other stories I have read. Anyone who grew up in the 80’s will appreciate the music references in this book as well, had be nodding my head yes in more than one occasion lol.

Woot! Ivelese made my week! Thanks so much!

Here's the blurb:

For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits over and over. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

I'm visiting Sherry Gloag's blog this week too, so I hope you'll pop over and say hi! From Sunday through Wednesday, I'll have a new post each day. I'd love for you to visit!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two more re-releases

Yay, I received the rights back for my paranormal novella, One Soul for Sale, which I've republished. It's now available from Amazon and Smashwords titled Soul for Sale. For just $1.99!

As soon as I saw this image, I snapped it up. If you're familiar with the story, you know Madelyn's grey cat plays a pivotal part. If you're not familiar with the story, I hope you read it! Did I mention it's just $1.99? And that it was a 2011 EPIC finalist? :)

I revised it a bit, rewriting it in past tense instead of present.

Reviews described the story as “outstanding,” a “riveting read… I couldn’t stop until I hit the last page.”

You can view the Casting Call, Story Elements, read more wonderful reviews and more here.

Next, my short contemporary chick lit, Liberation via Pen, is now re-released on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle as Writing Off the Past.

This is a very fun story, and a quick read. A reviewer said it "is a great story... The empowerment displayed towards the end was uplifting. Any woman who has been in Krista’s shoes will enjoy this read..."

I hope you’ll check out more about Writing Off the Past