Technically it’s too late in the week for Monday’s Friend. But I’m on Christopher Mannino’s blog today, and am reciprocating by promoting his Mythic Monday giveaways.
Sign up for Chris’s MythicMondays and you could win a 50 dollar Amazon GiftCard, a signed paperback, or an audiobook!
All entrants receive a free short story.
Who is Christopher Mannino?
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life. His wife, Rachel Mannino, is a romance author at www.RachelMannino.com
The Scythe Wielder’s Secret Trilogyis a YA Fantasy series about a girl forced to become a grim reaper. The trilogy has been hailed as “Too good to put down” a “Must read” and “Perfect for fans of books like Harry Potter.” Learn more at http://www.ChristopherMannino.com
The first two books in the trilogy, SCHOOL OF DEATHS and SWORD OF DEATHS are available now and the third, THE SCYTHE WIELDER’S SECRET, is coming soon.
Watch the trailer for SCHOOL OF DEATHS below!
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I am once more a week late with my monthly round-up. Life is a bit hectic. But there is news to report, so on with it.
Final edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are done! I still have no confirmed release date, or a cover, but I think we’re looking at a summer release.
And in case you missed it last month, the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, has been contracted to MuseItUp and will be out in 2017 – likely Autumn.
I only had one guest appearance this month, but it was a rather interesting one. Susan A Royal interviewed my amateur sleuth Shara Summers on her blog on 11 April.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I’m about 7000 words into the new horror novel, but I’m not happy with what I’ve got so far. I’ve only recently realised how to fix it, and it’s going to need a reboot. Scrap and start over. Oh well. With any luck, some of the words already written will be salvageable.
I’ve also got the muse whispering in my ear at the moment with the plot of the fourth Shara Summers book, demanding to be written. I’m trying to write only one book at a time, so thus far I’ve been attempting to resist the urge to succumb to this one. But the Muse is whispering quite loudly. All I can really say at this stage is that this book will take Shara to New York. I feel another visit there might be required. You know, just for inspiration.
That’s it for now, so go off and enjoy the spring sunshine, and I’ll catch you next month.
We’ve got something a bit different on the blog today. This week’s guest is not an author, but a character. Xander is the protagonist of Susan A Royal’s new novel XANDER’s TANGLED WEB, and I am interviewing him today. Susan and I are doing a blog swap and she’s interviewing Shara Summers on her blog today, so hop on over to there once you’re finished here!
SJT: Tell us a bit about yourself, Xander. Where do you come from?
X: My wife, Suse, and I are both descended from a race of little people called Mipins. While she’s a pretty little thing, I’m not much to look at, that’s for sure. Honestly, I don’t know what she sees in me. I tend to squint a lot when I’m pondering over things. She says it makes me look like there’s a woolly caterpillar crossing my forehead.
I’ve lived in Battington my whole life. It’s located in Seren Valley in the Kingdom of Regal, cradled on three sides by the Heliotrope Mountains and to the south by the Azure Sea. The picturesque township boasts fine buildings of red or blue brick and streets paved with smooth stones, bordered on either side with willow trees.
However, it’s best known for its marketplace. People came from far and wide to shop for the merchandise offered. Sellers of exotic spices and exquisite cloth do business next to apothecaries and goldsmiths. Food courts offer tasty delights like funnel cakes or hot sausage on a stick while actors’ troupes entertain with impromptu performances.
SJT: What do you do for a living?
X: For the past year I’ve been trying my hand at farming. Without much success I might add. Before that I was constable for the township of Battington, a job I dearly loved. That is until Cymon, the mayor, and I had some differences which led to a parting of the ways. That’s how I got into farming…and found out it wasn’t for me.
A few days ago I rod into town for supplies, and along came Cymon with an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s only temporary, but he wants me to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. At double my former wages. With any luck I should be able to locate her, collect my wages along with the reward, and be home before harvest. Easy peasy…
SJT: What’s your favourite food and drink?
X: I’m fond of ale, particularly the ale at Ardley’s tavern. And it’s a good thing, because the food he offers is enough to turn even the strongest man’s stomach. Then again I’m biased. When it comes to cooking, no one can hold a candle to my Suse. She could boil shoe leather and it would taste like roast. A good thing too. She hasn’t had much to work with lately.
SJT: I gather you are currently seeking a member of royalty.
X: As I said, I’ve been hired to investigate Princess Mena’s disappearance. She vanished without a trace from the Marketplace a few nights ago. The whole town is in an uproar. King Leander has called for an early curfew and there is talk about postponing the Spring Festival.
SJT: Battington’s marketplace seems an unlikely place for a princess to be hanging about. What was she doing there?
X: My thoughts exactly. According to everyone I’ve spoken to, she went to see Mercury, the apothecary. Not just for some ordinary, run of the mill spell, either. She wanted a love potion. That complicates things.
SJT: Do you think the gypsies have anything to do with her disappearance?
X: When Emil’s bunch is in the vicinity, they tend to get the blame for any sign of trouble. While they’re no doubt responsible for things like freshly baked pies vanishing from the windowsill, a missing chicken or clothing off the line, they’re generally harmless. They are a secretive bunch, though.
SJT: When you’re not out investigating, what do you like to do to relax?
X: I’ve always loved making rounds, seeing Battington’s streets are safe and secure for its inhabitants. Especially on a crisp night with the moon shining down out of a clear sky, its light bright enough to cast shadows. While the town is sleeping, I can relax and unwind.
SJT: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Xander. Now I’d better let you get back to your investigations.
Blurb for XANDER’S TANGLED WEB
When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.
After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal.
But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.
Mother to three children and their spouses, she has five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned about growing up during the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager in WWII through her mother’s eyes.
Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of exciting adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.
Learn more about Susan’s books here:
All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I’m a week late posting the round-up for March. But life keeps getting away from me, and I was also in the midst of confirming some news I wanted to report on.
Edits for SUFFER THE CHILDREN are more or less done, and we’re on track for a late spring release. I’m hoping to be able to confirm a release date soon. I’m expecting late May.
And now on to the Big News. I’ve just signed the contract for the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, and am pleased to be able to say that this novel has moved from the WIP section to ‘coming soon’. Although ‘coming soon’ is a bit of a relative term. Publication is estimated at Summer/Autumn 2017. So about 18 months away. I am looking forward to working with my editor at MuseItUp on this one. I have a feeling there’ll be lots of edits on this one, but between the two of us I am confident we can get it into shape.
I appeared on Eric Price‘s blog on 7 March as part of a blog swap sharing writing tips. I was talking about what I learned during the process of writing my first published novel.
WORK IN PROGRESS
I am now working in earnest on the new horror novel, which still doesn’t have a title. I’m referring to it as the ‘urban explorers novel’ because this is who it features as main characters.
There’s plenty to keep me busy here for a while. Catch you at the end of April!
Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow Muser Barbara Ehrentreu to the blog, who’s going to offer us a view of writing from the pantser’s perspective.
Why I am a “Pantser”
By Barbara Ehretreu
People like James Patterson tell us that novels can be written according to a set outline and he makes a lot of money doing this kind of thing. Many people use outlines for their writing and for them it works. For me an outline is like a straight jacket. I only know the first sentence of my novel and then I write from there.
To some people that would be a frightening experience. Imagine getting to the page and having no idea of what you are going to write. Well, I don’t quite have a blank mind about it. Before I have decided to write my novel I have an idea of my characters and I have developed them to the point where I pretty much know them. Of course as I am writing I get to know my characters better and better. Also from my characters I can pretty much get the plot of my novel.
So I sit down and write the first sentence and develop my characters and then write. Every time I sit down to write I never know what is going to happen. That is unless it is a complicated scene. I have had to stop and plot these scenes out so I won’t make a mistake. However, that is rare and usually I have the book at least halfway done before that happens.
I don’t know the ending to any of the books I write. For some this would put them in an anxious state the whole time they are writing. I know writers who write the ending before the book starts. For me the ending will come naturally and I’ll know it when it occurs. How do I know it? I just stop writing. The scene ends and I realize that is the ending. I do get a little nervous as the ending is getting closer. I can sense it and I want it to end, but I need to have accomplished all I wanted before the end. The characters need to have found some way to deal with plot complications and the ending needs to solve most of the major problems for them. For both of my published novels I cried for one and I was deliriously happy for the other.
I’m not saying all writers should try this method, but if you are feeling like you are not writing in a fluid way and you want to have more freedom you might try it. It’s not for the faint of heart and you might need a lifejacket of an outline nearby for your first time. But if you are writing the second book in a series as I did, your characters know you so well they talk to you. Or rather, you know your characters so well it is like having a conversation with them. They whisper in your ear and oh, yeah, they add characters you had never thought would be there.
To sum it all up, writing as a pantser is something that you should do if you don’t care what your ending is going to be and you have a good set of characters developed. The characters will move your plot and you will find you will write more and be happier with what you write. But as I said it is not for those who are worried without an outline. To all the pantsers who are reading this, there are more of us than you think.
Blurb for AFTER:
After is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?
Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?
Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of PEN Letters and SCBWI.
Today I’m delighted to be doing a blog swap with fellow MuseItUp author Eric Price. When you’ve finished reading his post here, hop on over to his blog, where I’m talking about the learning curve I experienced with my first published novel.
WELL, I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
By Eric Price
When I set out to write my first novel, all I had written were some short stories, a couple newspaper articles, a few lesson plans, and some failed attempts at poetry. I wanted to try my hand at something longer, so I wrote a stand alone novel with the potential for developing it into a series. After several revisions, and a few rejection letters, I did a major rewrite and introduced a secondary character I intended to write as a main character in a future book.
Well, MuseItUp Publishing gave me a contract for the first one, which eventually became UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD. My intent was to take some time off from the world of Wittatun and develop some of the other story ideas first, but my new character, Yara, kept calling to me, and I had no choice but to proceed with her book. After taking much longer than anticipated, it finally became THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER, also with MuseItUp Publishing. Now, as I struggle with the third and (I’m almost positive) final volume of The Saga of the Wizards, A Wizard Reborn, I think I know what I’ve done wrong, and hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
Anyone who hasn’t written a book would probably think after writing a first draft, revising it countless times, rewriting it, working through it three times with the content editor, another two times with the line editor, and reading over it one last time for formatting before it finally gets published, that the author would have every word of the book memorized. I can’t say I know how it works for other authors, but for me…no, there are so many details about my own book I don’t know. I constantly had to refer to Unveiling while writing Squire, and now I’m find myself checking back with both of them while I write A Wizard Reborn. What did we last see this character doing? How did this character die? What is this character’s brother’s name?
Even if I had one of those photographic memories, a second issue that frequents my pages is some minor detail in the earlier book(s) that really throws the proverbial monkey wrench in the works of my current work in progress. I’m constantly saying, “Why’d I do this?” or “Why didn’t I do that?” If this were a major movie franchise, I suppose I could ignore what happened in the previous volumes and move on with the story I want to write. (*Ahem* Yes, X-Men, you’re one of the franchises I’m talking about.) But since they’re books, I feel the need to make them as accurate as possible. A little planning could have saved me a lot of headaches and time.
Speaking of time, this brings me to my final issue. I never seem to have enough time. In my ideal world, I would have had each book of the series release about a year apart. Two years separated books one and two. Time will tell how long it take book three to see the light of eReaders.
About the Author:
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.
It’s Friday! And time to bring back the ‘Friday Fears’ feature, which involves horror stories of only two sentences.
So here are a couple of new ones from me:
Many people complimented me on my costume, and commented on how realistic the bloody knife looked. By the time they realised I wasn’t wearing a costume, it was too late.
When I woke up and could not see, my initial thought was that I had gone blind. I reached up to feel my face and that’s when I discovered that it wasn’t there – my body ended in a sticky mess where my neck had been.
As always, if you want to play, send me your two-sentence horror story and I’ll feature it next time.
Happy Friday, and don’t have nightmares!
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
February is nearly over, and it has one extra day than usual this year, with it being a leap year and all. The days are gradually getting longer and it’s now still light when I leave the office at the end of the day. It’s still dark by the time I get home, mind, but you can’t have everything.
On with the news.
No more news on a fixed release date for SUFFER THE CHILDREN, but it is meant to be coming out in Spring. Which means some time in the next three months. I’m expecting it to be around mid-May.
I’ve had two guest appearances this month. The first was on Amy McCorkle’s blog ‘Letters to Daniel‘. The brief was to write a letter to a hero who has changed your life in some way. So I wrote to Stephen King, who turned me on to writing horror.
I then had a guest post on Lay Lalone’s blog about why you shouldn’t listen to your English teacher.
WORK IN PROGRESS
SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers book, is nearly finished! I know I’ve said that a few times, but this time I am confident I’m on the final draft. Now I just want to get the damn thing finished and submitted, so I can get back to writing the new horror novel, which has been languishing in a ‘barely started’ first draft stage for ages.
I’v got a busy month coming up in March, including my first convention of the 2016 season, the Sci Fi Weekender in Wales. Join me next month for the low down on how it went!
Today I’m pleased to welcome another woman of horror to the blog – British horror writer Fiona Dodwell.
SJT: Some writers discover their calling at a very young age. Others arrive at it a bit later in life. How did it come to you?
FD: This is a tough one to answer, because in all honesty, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I seem to have been born with a passion for writing, and there doesn’t seem to be a particular moment that sparked this, at least that I recall. It seems to be in my blood! One of my earliest memories is of writing short stories and poems, and of declaring to my teacher in primary school that “when I grow up, I want to write books.”
SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
FD: Not to over-think things. I believe it’s far too easy to put up your own road-blocks, to keep thinking of the struggles, obstacles and difficulties in writing. The reasons can be many: I don’t have much time. I find this story hard to write. What if no one likes it? Am I good enough? You can carry these issues around and let it stop you, or you can ignore the doubts and simply try. Only two things can happen: 1) You complete a story you are happy with, which is an immense achievement or 2) You write something you feel unhappy with. Ultimately, neither of those two outcomes are a waste of time – all the while you are trying, working, writing and practising, you are becoming the best writer you can be. Don’t let doubts stop you, or you’ll never reach your full potential. You’ll never know what you could have done.
SJT: You seem to have been rather busy in the last six months, with several new releases. Want to tell us about them?
FD: Yes, I’ve had a really good time lately. Last year, I was offered representation with Media Bitch Literary Agency, and from the team there I’ve had a lot of support. The agents there are amazing – always helping, supporting, promoting and uplifting their authors. That’s a big part of why I’ve been able to get a lot done – they’ve been behind me all the way, helping me. In the last few months, I’ve released Nails, which is a paranormal novella, The Redwood Lodge Investigation and Juniper’s Shadow, which is the first segment of what will eventually be a trilogy. I also took part in The Dichotomy of Christmas, an anthology of horror stories alongside wonderful talents such as Graham Masterton, Michael Bray and M.R Sellars.
FD: From the youngest age, I loved telling friends ghost stories at sleep-overs, and watching scary movies. I’ve always had a morbid fascination with anything dark or creepy. I used to go to the library and borrow books on hauntings, and obsess over the tales for days. I’m not so much into blood and gore, but I love a good creepy ghost story. I think it’s because I find reading something scary quite thrilling. I love the fear, the tension, the sense of darkness. I’m really not someone who loves comedies and romantic films!
SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!
FD: I think horror is still very dominated by male presence – we have Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Adam Nevill, Jack Ketchum, Joe Hill etc who are all brilliant, and who I very much admire. But I think females can bring something different to the table, something that shouldn’t be ignored. There is a quiet and sinister element to certain female horror writers that really gets under my skin, in such a delicious way. One only has to read Susan Hill, Alison Littlewood, Sarah Pinborough or Shirley Jackson to know that a female writer can be very dark – in a very unnerving way. I love that more and more female horror writers are making a name for themselves. With the advent of ebook publishing, I think we will start to see more of us, and hopefully the playing field will be a little more level as time goes on.
SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?
FD: I have some projects ahead of me in 2016 that I am very excited about. There are some that I can’t yet share, unfortunately, but I promise there is a lot going on.
What I can tell you is that I am taking part in a horror anthology which will be released in March, called Beasts. I am really happy to be sharing pages alongside Jack Ketchum, Iain Rob Wright, Michael Bray and many, many more fantastic writers on that project. I will also be releasing a novella entitled The Faceless, which has been great fun to write.
Later in the year I will hopefully be releasing my fourth full-length novel, The Risen. That novel is in the hands of my agent as we speak, and being shopped around various publishers. So it’s full steam ahead, and I am really excited to see what the year brings. I’m enjoying being busy, and it’s keeping me out of trouble!
Many thanks to Fiona for being my guest today! You can find all of Fiona’s books at Amazon.
(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
There’s this misconception out there that writing is a glamorous life, and that writers just rattle off a novel and sit back and let the money roll in. This misconception is enhanced by the media, which focuses on writers like J.K. Rowlings, E.L. James and Neil Gaiman, and how much money they’ve made.
It’s true that all of these people have made a good living from writing, but sadly they are the exception, rather than the rule. The BBC published an article in 2014 stating that the average full-time writer was now earning £11,000 a year, which was well down on the last survey done nearly ten years earlier. Significantly, the same article also points out that the number of UK writers working full-time had also dropped quite dramatically – from 40% to 11.5%. Every time I get a royalty statement, I get depressed. If I were to add up all the royalties I’ve received since my first novel got published six years ago, it still equates to a sum that’s less than what I earn in a month in the day job.
I know a lot of writers for whom writing is their full-time job. Most of them have a supplementary income, whether it be their partner’s income, running writing courses, or something else like an inheritance, investments or rental income. Not many of them would describe themselves as ‘well off’. Most are just about managing to get by.
Whatever your reasons are for writing, you shouldn’t be doing it for the money. By all means fantasise about being a full time writer, and maybe you might be able to make it work, but don’t go handing in your letter of resignation to the boss as soon as you get that first novel contract.
So there’s the myth busted about the fortune. What about the fame? There’s a famous quote out there – and I don’t know who it originated with – that says that it takes twenty years to become an overnight success. There are a lot of writers out there, competing with a limited reading public. I have a fantasy that I’ll meet someone at a party one day and upon hearing my name they’ll say, “oh yes, I know you. I’ve read one of your books.” It hasn’t happened yet. Maybe, if I keep on churning out the novels, I might get to that point by 2030. By which point I’ll be almost ready to start drawing my pension!
Write because you want to, write because you need to. But if you want fame and fortune, marry a footballer or a supermodel instead. It’ll be far less painful in the long run.