The Further Adventures of Shara Summers

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

My editor at MuseItUp has been quite busy.  Not only have I received the second round of edits on DEATH SCENE from her, I’ve also received the first round of DEAD COOL edits.

As well as meaning I know what I’ll be doing for the Easter weekend, it makes the whole thing a bit more real.  DEATH SCENE is scheduled for release next month.  DEAD COOL will follow a few months later.

This is all very exciting stuff, particularly with a series that I had pretty much given up on completely at one point (and if you’re a recent visitor to this blog, do a search on the Shara Summers tag to get a better idea of what I’m talking about here).  Shara now has a home with MuseItUp.  And with the contract for DEAD COOL stating that they want first refusal of any sequel, it makes writing more Shara books an attractive prospect.  When I thought I was writing the second book of a series that no one was going to buy, I found it a bit discouraging to carry on with it.

The homage to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, which I started writing as the original sequel to DEATH SCENE and then gave up halfway through, I am now giving serious thought to reviving as the third book in the Shara series.  This one originally suffered from lack of plotting, when I got stuck halfway through and abandoned because I made the mistake of starting to write the book without working out first how it was going to end.

The thing is, though, there was a publisher last year I sent DEAD COOL to and it got a very enthusiastic response from the editor there.  So much so that she asked questions about the first book, and the third, and at one point we were talking about a three book deal.

Sadly in the end this did not lead to a deal – not because of the editor, who remained enthusiastic, but apparently she could not convince her sales people that there was a market for a contemporary British-based Amateur sleuth in the US, and the US was too big a market for them to overlook this.  And that’s a whole different topic – let’s not go there.

The point of mentioning this is that when this editor asked me for a plot summary of Book 3, as part of her negotiations with the marketing people, I had to come up with one quickly.  This obliged me to go back to my half-finished novel and decide how it was going to end.  This plot summary is something I now do as a matter of course (see last week’s post on Plotting), but at the time I started this manuscript I didn’t, and it became one of the many casualties I abandoned halfway through before I learned the valuable lesson about how important it is to plot.

Anyway, the point of this rather roundabout tale is that because of this sequence of events I now have a complete plot outline for the next Shara book.  And I’m starting to feel increasingly enthusiastic about writing this book.

There are other, less developed ideas as well for other Shara books.  I want to take her back to New York (where she starts out in the opening scene of DEATH SCENE), in a story that will involve a secondary character in DEAD COOL (no spoilers!).  So maybe that’s book 4.

On the first round, Shara didn’t reach a very big audience.  But there are a handful of loyal fans out there who are interested in what happens to her next.

When one of them happens to be your editor, it does renew your faith in your character.

Plotting

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

On the crime panel at Sci Fi Weekender, I found myself – quite literally – between two opposing views on plotting.  At one end of the table was a writer who was evangelical about the importance of plotting.  At the other end of the table was a writer who says she never plots and believes she would lose interest in writing about her characters if she knew what was going to happen to them next.  I was sitting in the middle.

I was struck by how neatly this set up demonstrated opposing views on plotting.  Some writers are plotters, some are ‘seat of pantsers’, but rarely have I seen two extremes demonstrated so neatly on the same panel.   And it inspired me to come up with this post.

I am on the side of the plotters, I have to say.  But it hasn’t always been that way, and it has been my own experience that has brought me to this way of thinking.

When I started writing SUFFER THE CHILDREN, it was based on a short story called “Kiddiwinks”.  The story was basically about a group of children telling scary stories to each other about the witch that allegedly lives in the haunted house.  They dare each other to go in and discover that it is, indeed, occupied by a sinister old woman.  Who, they learn too late, eats children.  The writing group encouraged me to turn this short story into a novel, and the premise behind SUFFER THE CHILDREN was born.

When I began the novel I knew the monster was to be a mythological creature, and that the main characters would have to defeat the creature.  What I didn’t know at the time was how they were going to do that.  I began the first draft, thinking that ideas would come to me as I went along.  I ended up writing half the novel, and then got stuck.  I went back to the beginning, and re-wrote the first half, but I was still stuck at the same point.  My characters were floundering around saying that they had to defeat this evil creature, but they had no idea how to do it, and neither did I.  I put the novel away, for a good five years – writing short stories in the mean time.  I dreaded going back to it.  I had no idea how I was going to write myself out of the hole I’d dug for myself.

But I wanted to finish the novel, and eventually I bit the bullet and realised I had to work out how it was going to end.  So I went back to the beginning and wrote a three-page summary of the whole novel.  From there I took that summary and broke it down into a chapter by chapter plan, from beginning to end.

At that point, I went back and started the novel over.  And lo and behold I got to the end of the first draft.

I have used this technique for writing ever since.  I write the plot summary first - usually it runs to three pages.  I break that down into a chapter by chapter outline.  Only then do I start writing the first draft.

Some people baulk at such a regimented plan, but this is now the only way I can write a novel.  It means that every time I sit down for a writing session, I review what I wrote last time, and I look at my chapter plan and I know what’s going to happen next.  Sometimes my chapter plan is quite brief – it might say, for instance, that in chapter 10 my amateur sleuth has to discover X about this character, which turns out to be a vital clue.  But how she’s going to discover this piece of information I still have to think about when I sit down to write the chapter.

This doesn’t mean that things always go to plan.  Writing the first draft of DEAD COOL I was surprised to discover about three quarters of the way through the first draft that the killer was not who I initially thought it was.  But knowing the identity of the real killer suddenly made a lot of things in the plot that hadn’t been making sense click into place, and all I actually had to do to correct the second draft was to plant a couple of extra clues and rewrite a few scenes with different characters.  And of course it did change the ending a bit.

If you’re a pantser and not a plotter, I am not disrespecting the way you work.  Everyone has to find the system that works for them.  But I will say, as a reader, I can tell when a book has not been plotted.  Generally the book will start off with the characters heading in a certain direction, and suddenly they’ll lurch off and head in a completely different direction. Some people might say that they enjoy unexpected twists like this, but I tend to find them a bit off-putting.  But this is just me.  On the whole, I don’t like surprises.

Perhaps we can liken writing a novel to taking a journey.  A plotter takes the GPS, and the map.  They’ve studied the route beforehand, they know where they are going and how they are going to get there.  There are no surprises.  This is the way I work.  Occasionally I might take a slightly different road than the GPS suggests, because instinct suggests there’s a better way, but only if I’m confident that I’m still going to end up in the same place.

A pantser, on the other hand, will get in the car and start driving.  For them, it’s about the journey, not the destination.  They will get lost, they will arrive very late, they might end up someplace completely unexpected, but they enjoy the journey and not knowing what’s around the next corner.

Plotting and pantsing is reflected in reading preferences, too.  I much prefer to read books that are plot driven, with a clear beginning, middle and end.  Readers who are more fond of character-driven books and ‘surprises’ are going to be more fond of writers who don’t plot.  And I suspect such readers may not get on very well with my books – they might consider them too predictable.

This is one of those issues that always causes lively debate – there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s entirely down to personal preference.  Whether you’re a reader, or a writer, where do you stand?

Monday’s Friend: Margaret Fieland

Today I am pleased to have fellow MuseItUp author Margaret Fieland as my guest. Welcome, Margaret!

SJT:  When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

MargaretFielandMF:  LOL, I never realized I was destined to be a writer – I fell into it. I’d written poetry for years, collecting it in notebooks stacked in my attic when I wrote one I wanted to keep. This led me to several online sites and ultimately to discovering the Muse Online Writers Conference where I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson and joined her writers forums. She required everyone to write both fiction and poetry, so, with much trepidation, I started writing fiction. Then I got hooked on it, wrote a chapter book, took the ICL course and actually learned how to write it. Then in 2010, I was seized by a desire to write a sci fi novel, so I spent six weeks or so on world building, mostly, with a bit of plotting thrown in for good measure.

SJT:  Who would you cite as your influences?

MF:  I’m a way-back sci-fi fan, and Robert A. Heinlein influenced me heavily. I took a lot away from his writing, notably the value of surprising one’s reader. I also love Lewis Carroll, both his Alice books and his poetry. I can still recite several stanzas of Jabberwocky from memory. Isaac Asimov and James M. Barrie are also early influences.

SJT:  What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

MF:  Don’t let your vision of yourself as a writer be limited. I never, other than for English class, wrote a word of fiction before I joined Linda’s writing forums. It simply never occurred to me that I could – or that I wanted to. A clear failure of imagination.

SJT:  You bio says you read a lot of science fiction aimed at boys when you were growing up. There is a myth out there that science fiction is written by, and for, men. Do you think any progress has been made in the last few years about raising public awareness that women write, and read, science fiction?

MF:  Well, there is certainly lots more sci fi written by women now-a-days, and I do believe more women are reading the genre. But there were actually women sci fi writers when I was growing up – Andre Norton and C.L. Moore, to name a couple. Do notice, however, the androgynous names. Things have indeed improved a bit since then. But I do believe that sci fi is viewed as a largely male preserve, just like, sadly, computer software engineering.

SJT:  Where do think the human race will be a hundred years from now – utopia, dystopia, or the same place we are now?

MF:  About the same place we are now, truthfully. However, from a writers’ point of view, this is probably the least interesting alternative {grin}, so my writing certainly won’t reflect this rather mundane view of our future. As a writer, predicting disaster of one kind or another is a much more fruitful source. In my Aleyne novels, the backstory includes a collapse of technology here on Earth in about 100 years, due to riots that brought down the government and destroyed infrastructure.

SJT:  Tell us about your latest release.

Geek GamesMF:  The latest release was Geek Games, which is actually the second Aleyne novel, in terms of chronology. It features a fourteen-year-old main character, Martin Samuels, who foolishly brings down the spaceport computer network, thus enabling the terrorists to set off a bomb which kills his friend’s father. The third novel in the series, Broken Bonds, was released in July. It features Brad Reynolds, who is the Major in charge of the Federation Guard base on Aleyne. It takes place roughly four years after Geek Games.

SJT:  What are you working on at present?
I’m finishing up the fourth book in the series. It’s another adult novel, a sci fi action-adventure romance, and the main character is Colonel Robert Walker, the man who (spoiler) arrests Brad for treason in Broken Bonds. I’ve been calling it Rob’s Book as a working title, but I’m going to have to get busy soon and pick out a real one.

I also just started plotting out a fantasy. It takes place some unknown hundreds of years in the future where we’re experiencing another ice age. My main character and his clan are living in caves.

Author Bio:

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of Relocated, Geek Games, and Broken Bonds, published by MuseItUp Publishing, and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book is due out later this year.

Find Margaret online at the following links:

Pinterest
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

brokenbonds_200X300Blurb for BROKEN BONDS

Sex with aliens? How about romance with aliens? A treason accusation? Brad Reynolds has his hands full. When Major Brad Reynolds is assigned to head the Terran Federation base on planet Aleyne, the last thing he expects to find is love, and certainly not with one of the alien Aleyni. How can he keep his lover, in the face of political maneuvering and of Ardaval’s feelings for his former partners — and theirs for him?

Buy Links:

Publisher’s website
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Bookstrand

 BLURB for GEEK GAMES

When fourteen-year-old Martin lets Tom, a charismatic bully, persuade him to bring down the spaceport computer network, he never considers someone will place a bomb resulting in the death of his friend’s father. Nothing will bring Captain Frey back, but if Martin can help locate the terrorists’ drug lab, perhaps he’ll be able to forgive himself.

Buy links:

Publisher’s website
Amazon
Omnilit

 

Friday Fears: Two Sentence Horror – An Introduction

Some writers do ‘Friday Flash’, where they present to the world a story of no more than 100 words at the end of the week.  I’ve always considered myself not very good at Flash Fiction – I figure I need more than a hundred words to tell a story.

But I recently came across this website featuring horror stories of two sentences.

These snippets are not credited, so I don’t know who wrote them, but I found them to be genuinely creepy.  They may be only a few words long, but they stay with you for a long time.  And this has inspired me to set this challenge for myself.  To write scary stories in two sentences.  I think the discipline will be good for me, and it might teach me not to be so afraid of flash fiction.

And so I present a new feature on the blog:  Friday Fears – Horror stories in two sentences.  On Fridays, I will present a scary story in two sentences.  I would like to invite people to join me on this.

So these are the rules.  The idea of the story is to creep people out.  It can be no more than two sentences.  The sentences must be complete – no run-on sentences and blatant disregard of grammar.  You can’t use a comma instead of a full stop and expect to get away with it.  However, extended sentences and complete multi-phrase sentences are perfectly acceptable.

I invite others to try their own hand at two sentence horror stories.  If you want to send me your efforts, I shall offer them on the blog as the next Friday Fear – credited, of course.  Let’s see who can write the scariest two-sentence horror story.

As a taster, here is my first attempt.

 

FRIDAY FEAR #1:

I was alone in the house when I looked into the mirror and saw a pale-faced stranger standing behind me.  When I turned around, there was no one there.

 

Maybe not bad for a first attempt, but I reckon I can do better.  I need to get practising.

Happy Friday!

 

Monday’s Friend: J Q Rose

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MuseItUp author J Q Rose to the blog.

Endings
By J Q Rose

Hi Sara Jayne and Readers. I am delighted to be here today.

As a reader, I have a pet peeve when it comes to reading books or watching movies. I bet you do too. I like to have a satisfying ending to the book. (That doesn’t mean every book has to have a happy ending.) I get pretty frustrated with the author/movie maker when they draw me into the beginning of the story, but don’t deliver on the end.

As writers we always work hard to make the first sentence in a story pop to hook the reader. Do you put as much thought into writing the ending of your story? After all, the ending is a reward to the reader for finishing the book, and it should tie up all the loose ends of the sub-plots and main plots in a satisfactory way. When the reader closes the book, she should be happy she spent the time in those pages with your characters and story.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am a semi-pantser and a semi-plotter. I scribble out a few plans for the plot line, and then I begin writing. This kind of mini-outline keeps me focused on the story so I don’t get carried away with writing scenes that have no reason to be there.

The big question is, do I know the ending for the story before I begin writing it? Yes, I have an idea, but by the time I get to the ending it may change from my original conception.

In Coda to Murder I switched the killer in the blink of an eye. I didn’t even suspect the person until I’d written almost the entire story! See? The mystery was even a mystery to me until the end.

I’ve listed a few things I believe an ending should do for a reader. You are welcome to leave a comment with more suggestions to add to the list. Thank you.

• All readers want a satisfying ending where all sub-plots and major plot questions are answered.
• The ending should be plausible. After reading the ending, don’t have the reader wonder how in the world is that possible.
• Don’t you hate those unbelievable stories where the person wakes up at the end and we readers discover it was all a dream?
• Do not leave the reader hanging in order to sell the next book in the series. (Refer to the first bullet point.) If the reader falls in love with the characters, of course she will look up the sequel to the stories. After investing my time into reading a book, I get grumpy when I discover the answer may be in the next book. Or will I have to buy a third book to wrap up all the loose ends from the previous two books? I like each book to be a stand-alone. In Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum twenty book series she ties up the loose ends in every book. Her characters relationships keep readers coming back for the next adventure.
• Achieving a balance in revealing the answers to all the questions brought up through the story line is difficult. Authors need not race to reveal the ending because the reader will feel cheated of the emotional buildup, but we shouldn’t drag it out with re-telling the entire plot either.
• Spend as much time on the ending as you do on the first paragraph. Your readers will love you for it.

Coda To Murder 200x300Tagline for CODA TO MURDER

Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

BLURB:

Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Detective Cole Stephens doesn’t want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?

BUY LINKS:

MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
and major online booksellers.

Get CODA TO MURDER free for a limited time only!  See the code below to learn how to get your copy.

2014CODATOMURDERFREE

AUTHOR BIO

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her mysteries, Sunshine Boulevard and Coda to Murder released by MuseItUp Publishing. Blogging, reading, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.
Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/
Girls Succeed blog http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/
Author website http://jqrose.webs.com/
Facebook http://facebook.com/jqroseauthor
J. Q. Rose Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/aeuv4m4
Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/jqrose
Pinterest http://pinterest.com/janetglaser/

You Tube Book Trailer– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9FONg4mJ9g&feature=youtube_gdata

 

One Day To Sci Fi Weekender

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Tomorrow I’m off to my first convention of the year – the fifth Sci Fi Weekender, in North Wales.

It’s the third year I’ve attended this Con, and I always look forward to it.  It’s a Con to celebrate all things geeky in TV, film and books, and it actively encourages Cosplay.  Seeing all the incredible costumes is always a highlight of the Con.

This year I’m looking forward to it all the more as I am on several panels.  As it happens they are all on Saturday afternoon – at least I get them all out of the way at once.  At 2pm I am on a panel called ‘Does Crime Pay’, exploring the concept that ‘crime is the new black’.  Then I’ve got a bit of a break, but can’t go too far as at 3pm I’m moderating the ‘Blurred Lines’ panel discussing cross-genre.  And I still haven’t come up with questions for the panel yet.  So I know what I shall be doing tonight.

And following that I’m on the next panel too, which is exploring what makes science fiction – ‘from Space Opera to Dystopian Futures’, the panel description says.  I suspect it was my public declaration of love for Star Wars that got me on that one.

With only a day to go, the usual dilemma has reared its head – what to wear for a Con?  I’m not organised enough to put a costume together.  The usual fall-back Con wear is jeans and a Geek t-shirt.  However, I have recently realised that I literally have a drawer full of Geek t-shirts, reflecting an array of geeky interests – Star Wars; Buffy; Dr Who.  I’ve even got a Resident Evil 4 t-shirt.  So which ones do I pack?  My favourite Con t-shirt is the girlie pink one with the cartoon grim reaper on that says ‘Horror Writer’.  But I wore that at the last Con.  Can a self-respecting geek be seen in public wearing the same t-shirt at every Con?

If you’re going to be at the convention, do stop by and say hello.  And if you’re not – well, I’ll catch up with you when I return to normal life.

In the meantime, I’m off to go ransack my t-shirt drawer and think up intelligent questions for my panel.

 

Monday’s Friend: Janie Franz

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MUI author Janie Franz to the blog. Take it away, Janie!

INSPIRATION
By Janie Franz

The Bowdancer 200x300Thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog, Sara-Jayne. As I pondered what to write about, I thought of a blog I did recently for a special feature on JQ Rose’s blog called Seeds of Inspiration. She asked writers to talk about what inspired them to become writers. I had toyed with an idea of either writing about how I became a multi-published author or what inspired my flagship series, The Bowdancer Saga. As I wrote, my life story spilled out. But I never talked about what inspired The Bowdancer. That’s what I’ll write about.

Sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, I stretched out on my dining room floor and drifted into meditation in the middle of the day. I just opened myself to see what happened. I’d been doing visual mediation, some guided, some not. As I relaxed, a landscape appeared. It was night and I saw this petite female figure shooting a flaming arrow across the night sky. I knew her instantly. Her title—the Bowdancer. And her dilemma, her angst.

Nothing else appeared in the few seconds of that flash of insight. When I was alert and aware again, grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled down what I’d seen.

The Bowdancer incubated for a few years. I finally wrote a brief sketch of a story, reworked it, and even tried to market it to a couple of magazines. One hated it. One loved it but the magazine couldn’t find room for it. It went back into a drawer.

In the late 90s when I was in college to finish a degree in anthropology, I pulled it out once again for a writing workshop I took as part of an English concentration. It was well received even though I broke every rule my instructor set up.

Again the story went back into a drawer. I pulled it out one final time to pitch to Breathless Press in 2009 during a pitch session for the Muse Online Writers Conference. They picked it up, published it December of that year, and then released two new books in that series.

In 2010, I pitched new books to MuseItUp Publishing, including three more books in the ongoing Bowdancer Saga. This year, the entire saga will be under one publishing roof. They will join the two published books in my Ruins trilogy, a couple of non-formula contemporary romances, and a creepy little horror story—to make eleven books published by MuseItUp Publishing.

I never realized how significant that one meditation would become. The Bowdancer, a novelette, sparked five other books. And I have ideas for four more that I hope to write eventually (as well as a time-warp novel that may be more than one book and a paranormal series).

You never know where inspiration will come from.

Author Bio

Janie [800x600]Janie Franz comes from a long line of liars and storytellers with roots deep in east Tennessee. Honed by the frigid Northern Plains and the high desert of New Mexico, as well as a degree in anthropology, her writing skill and curiosity generated thousands of feature and cover articles over a vast range of topics for more than a hundred regional, national, and international publications.

She co-wrote two books with Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox (The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book), and self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid!

She is a professional speaker and occasionally still reviews books, CDs, and concerts. Previously, she ran her own online music publication, Refrain Magazine, and was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.

The Wayfarer’s Road: Book 2 of The Bowdancer Saga

Healer Jan-nell and her precocious daughter meet a handsome wandering bard, carrying secrets and the hope of belonging.

The Bowdancer Saga continues in The Wayfarer’s Road. Healer Jan-nell, now a woman traveling alone with her precocious young daughter on the Wayfarer’s Road, meets a handsome wandering bard. But he is carrying his own secrets along with the priceless chance at hope for her and her child to belong.

Excerpt

The stranger stepped a bit further into the room and pulled back the wet hood of her sodden, brown cloak, revealing a delicate, fair face. A thick chestnut braid curved across one suede-covered shoulder like a docile snake.

“It is the changing moon,” her soft voice answered. She untied the laces of her cloak and pulled the cloth free from her other shoulder, revealing the black curls of a three-year-old child against her thigh-length tunic. The girl’s little arms wrapped protectively around the woman’s brown leggings.

WayfayersRoad200x300The traveler shook the water from her cloak and asked, “Might I have a dry bed, sir?”

The innkeeper’s eyes narrowed. “We be not offering beds to women alone. This be a respectable place.”

“I am not alone,” the woman answered, smoothing the child’s curls from off her face. “Would you deny a child a dry blanket?”

The innkeeper frowned. “Good woman, if that indeed be what you are, it is not seemly to be housed here without your man.”

“I take care of myself,” she said and struck her great staff against the floor for emphasis, ignoring the customers’ mumbled responses.

Buy Links

MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore:  https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/romance/fantasy-romance/the-wayfarer-s-road-detail

Find the first book in the Bowdancer series at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Another Promotional Roundup

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and for that I apologise.  We had an unexpected burst of Spring here in London last weekend, and we all went rushing outside to make the most of it.  Sadly it seemed to have been a blip, with normal UK weather restored in time for the working week.  After basking in the garden in a t-shirt on Sunday, I was obliged to get back into my coat and scarf on Monday.  Still, at least the rain has been holding off of late.

And in the meantime I’ve been very busy in cyberspace, with two more guest appearances in the last week or so.

First up, I was interviewed by Pete Sutton for his BRSBKBLOG blog, which is described as ‘Adventures in Publishing’.  We talked a lot about the creation of my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, and the forthcoming re-release of DEATH SCENE, and you can find the interview here.

This week, I’ve been visiting ‘Waibel’s World‘, blog of fellow MuseItUp author Mary Waibel, and talking about how being a writer is both a curse and a blessing.

And finally, it’s just over two weeks until the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales, my first Con of 2014.  This year, not only am I going, I’m on the programme.  I’m very excited to have received preliminary details this week about the panels I’ll be on.  All will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, if you’ll be at the Con, do stop by and say hello.

Monday’s Friend: Heather Greenis

Today my guest is MuseItUp author Heather Greenis. Welcome, Heather!

Heather GreenisThe Beginning
By Heather Greenis

Thank you so much for hosting me.

I find it interesting to read how others began writing at an early age. In school, I hated multiple choice and true and false questions but love writing essays.  I aced them, every time. It didn’t click that I could or should write.

My career began in finance which taught me a lot, personally. My positions gave me the opportunity to sit and have some good conversations with clients. Not that I plan to write about their stories, but I certainly have ideas for character development.

The concept for the Natasha Saga began with a dream and my imagination had fun with it. I’ve always been a fan of a good drama with a touch of mystery. Something that makes a person think.  When I need a breather, I enjoy something light that makes me chuckle.

Speaking with a friend recently, she gave me a huge complement. “While reading your books I have to remind myself you wrote these. I actually know the author behind this. It has drama, but also has some lighter moments. The books hit all my emotions.”

I have a lot of respect for this woman so I was thrilled.

Writing has become more than a hobby, it is a passion.

NATASHA’S DREAM and NATASHA’S DIARY are available through my publisher, Museitup Publishing and all major on-line distributors of ebooks.

Natasha dreamsNatasha’s Dream (Book 1 in the Natasha Saga)

Natasha’s dream is to escape a horrid future. The reserved young woman unexpectedly rebels in search of something very different. But there are consequences.

Growing up, her only friends were her brothers and Nanny. In her parent’s mind, she was a mistake. As a result of an innocent swim, she discovered life existed beyond the walls of her home. Families, peers, underprivileged children. Can a dream turn into reality? Anything is possible, but dreams come with consequences that not only affect her, but those she loves. What is Natasha willing to risk to persevere?

Natasha’s Diary (Book 2 in the saga)

More than a collection of inner thoughts, the diary becomes a blueprint for future generations. Will history repeat itself?

Keeghan’s subconscious has played tricks on her in the past, but she’s normally able to control the outcome of her dreams. No such luck with this story. The mystery magnifies when her husband William discovers something else by the eroding sea wall, something that peaks their curiosity even further. Now, Keeghan wants the saga to continue. Drawn into the story more than she was prepared for, she needs answers.

Natasha diaryHope is growing up quickly. She’s intelligent, independent, and stubborn. Negative traits inherited from both her parents surface at inconvenient times. Will her beauty help or hinder her?

A tragedy. Stewart is forced to make a decision that will affect his life and the rest of his family. Then, an encounter that changes everything. Is he ready for this? Has Stewart’s past really been left behind? Will history repeat itself? Trust, integrity, and tradition all come into question.

Natasha’s Hope (Book 3 – launching March 14, 2014)

Tragedies reshape Stewart’s plans and Hope’s dreams. Is the future of the orphanage at risk?

Natasha’s Hope – Having read the diary, Hope desperately wants the world to evolve according to her dreams. Through Adam, Hope finds an inner strength she never knew existed. Life-threatening events test her inner resolve and purpose in life.

Coming soon – Natasha’s Legacy – the conclusion to the saga – launching June 2014

Author Bio

Natasha hopeHeather has an uncanny ability to frequently “manipulate” her dreams. As a bonus, she remembers them in extensive detail the following morning. A dream inspired the basic storyline. Then her overactive imagination developed the characters and the detail. In her spare time Heather assists the Healing Cycle, Hospice Palliative Care. She is also actively involved with the local curling club, currently volunteering her time teaching children when she isn’t curling herself. Heather has a passion for travel, photography and gardening. She would like to extend a special thank-you to her niece for reading and re-reading and to her husband for his support, and encouragement, suggesting she “write it down”.

Find out more about Heather, including where to buy her books, from her website , or follow her on Facebook.

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(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

As we settle into 2014 I’ve been rather busy with promotional stuff, so I thought it was appropriate for a general update on what I’ve been up to of late.

Firstly, a round-up of guest appearances on the Internet for 2014. At the end of January, I featured on Chris Weigand’s Palace of Twelve Pillars blog, talking about how I was inspired to create my amateur sleuth Shara Summers. Earlier this month I visited Janie Franz’s blog Anasazi Dreams, talking about ambition and discipline being the tools of a writer. And most recently I’ve visited Helena Fairfax’s blog, where we’ve been reminiscing about childhood holidays in Blackpool.

All of this is an endeavour to drum up interest in the Shara Summers series, as the first two books are being released by MuseItUp this year. The first, DEATH SCENE, is a re-release. The previous version is no longer available, but the re-release will be out in the summer. If you haven’t been introduced to Shara yet, this is the one to start with. And if you’ve already read DEATH SCENE, a new publisher means new round of edits, so this version will be slightly different than the first.

If you enjoy meeting Shara in the first book, the second book in the series, DEAD COOL, will be released in Autumn so you won’t have to wait too long to catch up with her again.

Thus far, I don’t have definitive release dates or covers for either book. But you’ll be the first to know when I do, so watch this space.  In the meantime, if you want a sneak peek, there’s a blurb about each on the ‘Coming Soon’ page on my website.

And finally, if your tastes run to darker fiction, I’ve got some back listed horror titles that might be to your liking. SUFFER THE CHILDREN – available on the Kindle (US and UK) - is a supernatural horror novel with its roots based in mythology. And SOUL SCREAMS - available in print and ebook – is a collection of short horror stories about “that inner scream no one can hear but you”. It’s recently received some rather positive reviews on Goodreads, and if creepy stories are your thing, it might be right up your alley.

All this is why I’ve not had much time for the blog recently.  But of course that’s a poor excuse, and I hope that from now on I can improve on this year’s track record.

If you’ve recently discovered this blog, I bid you welcome and I hope you’ll stick around for a while.  If you’ve been following from the beginning, I’d like to say thank you for bearing with me – your support means a lot.  It’s going to be a busy year for me, writing-wise, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

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