Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Trailers - For sale or rent

I'm not sure trailers are useful, but making them keeps writers out of trouble and off the streets while they attempt artistic endeavors well beyond their talent and training.

Fortunately, I've got over a month until "Ultimate Duty" hits the e-stores. It will most likely take that long before I can make a semi-decent trailer out of odds, ends, royalty-free music and royalty-free art.

I'm using Windows Movie Maker because it's also free. Come to think of it, I'm really cheap, so everything I'm using has to be free.

You tell me. Have you done book trailers for your own releases? Do it yourself or hire it out? What are your experiences?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wild Blackberries

Lorrie Unites-Struiff has a way with words. Her latest work is a short story loaded with tension, fear, and a touch of the paranormal.

Morgan is a writer studying shape-changing legends at an Indian reservation. She makes friends with the owner of the motel where she's staying, and with Wade Tahona, a professor of Native American history.

She's also getting as far away from her abusive husband who she really wants to make an ex-. Unfortunately, the jerk shows up in Arizona to cause trouble. Kidnapped by the jerk, Morgan fights for her life and gets help from some unlikely sources.

Cool cover too. Buy the PDF at Books To Go Now for only 99 cents.

Lorrie is the author of the paranormal police procedural, Gypsy Crystal available in print and ebook format, and has published lots of stories. Read all about Lorrie on her website.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Get 'em while they're only a buck. Ends today!

On Smashwords (unlike Amazon), I can issue coupons for discounts. I'm selling for a buck a book through September 27, 2010. Click the link and buy, then enter the coupon code at checkout.

First Duty: Coupon BL38V
Nyra chooses between her duty to the military to which she's sworn an oath or her family when long-held secrets are revealed.

Quest for the Simurgh: Coupon KX55D
Four students search for their kidnapped teacher and find themselves in a battle between good and evil.

Eagle Quest: Coupon LL53A
A Native American boy searches for his roots through a vision quest.

Tales of a Texas Boy: Coupon XD25R
Little Eddie spins his tales about growing up in West Texas during the Depression, but he always has a humorous take on life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banners, Vid Trailers, Other Marketing Foofarah

From my observations, it seems that I've been remiss. I have not made banners for my books, produce a video book trailer (yikes!), or done all the other stuff I'm supposed to do to promote my literary endeavors.

Here's the deal. I don't know what I should promote. My modus operandi is that I query a new book to a few agents. Nothing happens, so I try a couple or so publishers. If that doesn't bear fruit, then I self-publish. Now, this is something I'm pretty good at doing. I can format like a son-of-gun. I can even produce a reasonably okay book cover. Then I put the thing through CreateSpace and let 'er ride into Amazon. Ebook format it and it goes to Smashwords and I upload to Kindle.

There. My books are available for the readers to snap up as desired. After that? Well, if I'm not getting any word of mouth, then my book must not be something others want to read.

I waver. Maybe I should spend my life doing marketing. But wait! I hate marketing.  Some days, I'm all gung ho and posting like a maniac. Other days I just say screw it.

So, here's my book publicity deal for this week. Buy my stupid books for a lousy $1 at Smashwords. The links and coupon codes are over there in the sidebar. Tomorrow is the last day, so that's it until I decide to whip my back with barbed wire again. Maybe next month.

Don't want to buy? That's okay with me. Guess what? I'll buy your book if you buy mine. Send me a copy of the receipt from where you purchased any of my books and a link to yours. Guaranteed sale. Won't spend a buck on publicity? You must be just like me.

There. Marketing task checked off for the week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

You Little Demon!

I used lots of Persian mythology in Quest for the Simurgh. If you’d like to know more about the three boys and Faiza standing up to the gods and demons, you can get any of the ebook flavors at Smashwords for a paltry buck using coupon KX55D while the Buck a Book Sale continues until 9/27.

Encyclopedia Mythica has plenty to say about Persian mythology. The three demons in Quest are minions of Dev, the war god.

Aesma Aesma is the demon of lust and anger, wrath and revenge. His wrath is mainly directed towards the cow (go figure). He is the personification of violence, a lover of conflict and war. He's resting on his laurels these days since war just seems to keep going from inertia. Nine years and counting!
Buyasta An ancient Persian demon of laziness who tries to prevent people from working. He's even lazier than usual lately since plenty of people are out of work without his help.

An archfiend, which is a demonic upgrade. Nanghaithya is the personification of discontentment. It seems that this guy has plenty of work in this downturn economy.

My Mashup

Dev (the little devil) wants war to usher in Armageddon. Why? Because war is his thing and wiping out all humankind is on his to-do list.

To that end, he sends three daevas (demons, if you will) to turn Faiza’s companions on the quest to the dark side (sort of a Darth Vader thing).

Aesma appears to Parviz in the form of a bear with a serpent’s tail. Parviz was a slave and has a mile-wide chip on his shoulder. Aesma fuels that anger and convinces Parviz that the others are his enemies, not his friends. He’s told to wait for Dev to call him into battle. And, of course, keep his mouth shut about the little meeting.

He sends Buyasta in the form of a giant spider to Bahar, who has always dreamt of becoming a warrior. The demon takes advantage of that dream to make Bahar fall asleep (laziness) and dream of himself as a mighty fighter in a huge battle. The good part: Bahar is kicking major butt. The bad part: The butts he’s kicking are those of his best friends.

Nanghaithya has a little un-pep talk (he’s a voice-over character) with Harib claiming that his friends all laugh at him and only keep his company because his father is rich. The demon attempts to make Harib discontented with his relationship with the others. Harib, however, is having none of it. He’s the only of the three boys who stays true to Faiza.

Who's your personal demon? For writers, it seems Buyasta and Nanghaithya have alternating work schedules.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last Week of Buck a Book Sale

On Smashwords (unlike Amazon), I can issue coupons for discounts. I'm selling for a buck a book through September 27, 2010. Click the link and buy, then enter the coupon code at checkout.

First Duty: Coupon BL38V
Nyra chooses between her duty to the military to which she's sworn an oath or her family when long-held secrets are revealed.

Quest for the Simurgh: Coupon KX55D
Four students search for their kidnapped teacher and find themselves in a battle between good and evil.

Eagle Quest: Coupon LL53A
A Native American boy searches for his roots through a vision quest.

Tales of a Texas Boy: Coupon XD25R
Little Eddie spins his tales about growing up in West Texas during the Depression, but he always has a humorous take on life.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Genies or djinns are great fun. Robin William’s genie in Aladdin was a hoot. But when is Robin Williams not a hoot? Okay, don’t tell me about One-Hour Photo, Insomnia, or Death to Smoochy. Nobody bats a thousand.

Ahem. That’s not the subject here. It’s genies.

Let’s not talk about I Dream of Jeannie. That is clearly a complete and utter corruption of the wonderful race of magical beings brought to us from Moslem tradition. So, here’s the skeenie on genies.

From Wikipedia:

In Arabic, a genie (also jinn, Djinn, jinni) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of God (Allah). Possessing free will, a djinn can be either good or evil.

The Djinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an, and there is a Surah entitled Al-Jinn. While Christian tradition suggests that Lucifer was an angel that rebelled against God's orders, Islam maintains that Iblis was a Djinn who had been granted special privilege to live amongst angels prior to his rebellion. Although some scholars have ruled that it is apostasy to disbelieve in one of God's creations, the belief in Jinn has fallen comparably to the belief in angels in other Abrahamic traditions.

Golly, that’s not near as much fun as Robin Williams. Still, a supernatural being that can wreak havoc on humans is right up our alley, right?

In my book, “Abu Nuwas: Teller of Tales,” Basit the genie serves Setara. Well, ‘serves’ is a bit of a stretch. He suggests, advises, and pretty much makes her figure out how to get things done. Every once in a great while, he will whomp up a little magic if Setara is about to fall off a cliff or something else dangerous.

Basit appears in all of Setara's adventures except one. In that story, an evil genie has tricked Basit into the bottle that Aladdin put him in years before. He introduces himself to Setara as Sharif, Apprentice Djinn Second Class, and claims to be taking over for Basit while he’s missing. Setara is naturally concerned for Basit. The evil genie (disguised as a boy djinn) wants to lure her into helping him kill the Great Vizier ---- screeeech! Calling a halt here. The plot is too complicated to explain in full.

The short of it is that Setara and her gang have to rescue Basit from the bottle. To do that, they have to put the bad genie into another bottle. Setara, Kairav the water demon, Azizah the cave demon, Sheik the dog, and Sulawesi the eagle are all needed to put that dang bad genie back in his bottle and get Basit out.

To learn what else happens to the gang, you’ll just have to buy a copy of the book. When it's published, that is.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kindle Cheap Reads

I'm a featured author today on Kindle Cheap Reads. I guess that's an honor of a sort. Here's the link in the clear.

Oh, well, last name misspelled again, but that's pretty common. I'm happy to get a mention at all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cryptozoology - The Sea Serpent

Ceto the Sea Serpent

In my as yet to be published series about a teen witch who can't spell worth a damn, our erstwhile heroine gets a little help from an unusual source. Did you ever wonder why there are so few sightings of the Loch Ness monster? Well, Nessie vacations on Ultima Thule, which may be the remnants of Atlantis.

She's not fond of the name Nessie or Loch Ness Monster and prefers to go by Ceto. From :

In Greek mythology, Ceto or Keto (Greek: English translation: "sea monster") was a hideous aquatic monster, a daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The asteroid (65489) Ceto was named after her, and its satellite (65489) Ceto I Phorcys after her husband. She was the personification of the dangers of the sea, unknown terrors and bizarre creatures. Eventually, the word "ceto" became simple shorthand for any sea monster. The term cetacean represents a case in point. Her husband was Phorcys and they had many children, collectively known as the Phorcydes or Phorcydides. In Greek art, Ceto was drawn as a serpentine fish. Ceto also gave name to the constellation Cetus.

My Mashup from Land of the Midnight Oil (yet to be published)
Ceto and Nessie become one. She's not a bad, um, person, but much misunderstood. She finds my heroine adrift in the northern seas sitting on a block of ice. Oh, yeah, the ice block contains the body of her father. Ceto finds this all fascinating and helps my heroine dock the block at Ultima Thule and find a messenger to send for help from the Witches' Island of Galdorheim in the Barents Sea.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Catch My Free Read

The MuseItUp bookstore is opening for business. There are free reads available to entice the customers in. I hope my freebie won't send them away screaming.

Check out the PDF of The Hunter here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

MuseItUp Bookstore Now Open for Business

My own book (a murder/suspense set in eastern Oregon) won't be out for a few months, but the shiny, new, secure MuseItUp books stores is now open for business. Be patient. Kinks and quirks may still exist. I do have a story in the Free Reads section. Look for "The Hunter," a much darker tale than my mystery, but it still gives you an idea of my writing.

Here is the notice from Lea Schizas, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer:

Like a kid at Christmas I'm really excited to announce that the MuseItUp Bookstore is now launched. We have six releases out and each month we'll have more and more. (Be sure to include the s on the http for secure entry)

If you join our readers group you have a chance to be one of our monthly Free ebook winners:

All you have to do is join our discussions, ask our authors questions, and participate in our games and fun, that's it.

On behalf of all the authors at the MuseItUp mainstream house and MuseItHOT house, I want to thank you for sharing our good news.

Lea Schizas
Romance Erotica

Rebecca Ryals Russell - Interview Part 3

Do you think self-publishing demeans the title ‘author’? At what point can one consider oneself an ‘author’? How does that differ from being a ‘writer’?

The problem I have with self-publishing is the lack of editing required. If everyone can publish a book available for sale via the same venues as publisher’s venues, how is a reader to know which are edited, polished and ready for consumption? I’ve lately come to the conclusion that a ‘writer’ is anyone who writes for a living (freelance, short stories, magazines, etc) while an ‘author’ has published novels or is included in published anthologies or collections.

If you’ve never written a children’s picture book, would you consider doing so?

I actually have several children’s picture books that I’ve been shopping around at publishers and hope to get published soon.

If you’ve only written for children and teens, would you consider writing a mainstream fiction novel?

I would love for my YA books to be read by mainstream adult readers.

What do you think is the boundary between Young Adult and Middle Grade?

In my opinion, MG literature involves preteen characters, no romance and reduced or no violence. That’s why I took my YA series Seraphym Wars and have developed a MG series called Stardust Warriors based on the same events but with no romance and much less violence. Book 1 Zarena has been accepted for publication and is due out July 2011.

MG novels also deal with issues relating to middle grade age kids. Their issues and problems are different from those dealt with by older teens who read YA and Adult lit.

What is the boundary between Young Adult and Mainstream Fiction for adults?

I would say that boundary is predominantly based on the ages of the main characters as well as the level of romantic heat and violence. Usually YA lit deals with issues most teens are dealing with, such as relationships, future-making decisions, self-analysis.

Do you think many adults read what is classified as Young Adult? Why do you think they do this?

Yes. I have discovered that a lot of adults enjoy reading YA literature because these stories tend to tell a good story and have well-developed characters. I think a lot of time mainstream adult literature is so busy with romance and violence they forget to tell the story. Of course there are exceptions – not all adult literature is romance, romance, romance.

Write a Twitter tweet about your next release. (140 characters)

YA series Seraphym Wars Book 1 Odessa due out April 2011

MG series Stardust Warriors Book 1 Zarena due out July 2011

Write your own six-word memoir.

Finally published YA author. Yipee! Skippy!

Yellow Hat Author that’s me. Woohoo!

Here's where to find Rebecca on the Internet:Blog 1

Blog 2

Book Website

Book Website




Rebecca Ryals Russell - Interview Part 2

What is your greatest fear about being an author? What about in life?

My greatest fear about being an author is probably pretty normal. I desperately want my stories read and would really like to make some money from my efforts. But I’m scared to death of ‘real’ success. If I was invited to Oprah’s show I’d probably pass out on her stage. My fear in life is that I will somehow die before finishing my two series.

What was your favorite subject in high school and why? Least favorite and why?

Of course my favorite subject has always been English. Particularly literature and Creative Writing. My least favorite is Math. I’m horrible at Math and really came to understand it when I taught it.

How did your high school English teacher(s) respond to your writings back then?

I always got good grades in English. My teachers made the typical red mark corrections but comments were always favorable.

What was your favorite book as a teen and why?

I had several books that I absolutely fell in love with and one author in particular. I LOVED Lord of the Flies. I’ve always enjoyed anything psychological and questioning. I also fell in love with Lord of the Rings. I love the whole quest thing with the various obstacles along the way. In fact, that is what I ended up writing. The whole time I kept LOTR in mind while I wrote. And my favorite author or all time is Ray Bradbury. His stories are intelligent and creative with twists and odd perspectives. I try to emulate him as well. The other book I adore is 1984 by George Orwell. I have a dystopian novel planned for my NaNoWriMo this year.

If someone told you everything you write is junk and worthless. Would you continue to write? Why or why not?

To be honest I’m not sure how I’d react. I would be devastated, for sure, but I think I would write – I just wouldn’t show it to anyone. I have a pretty fragile ego where my creations are concerned. I guess I’m always unsure whether anyone will like it.

What classic literature would you recommend teens to read and why?

Having raised three teens so far I had an opportunity to do just this. They read 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, A Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allen Poe, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee , Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. My son even read Dante’s The Divine Comedy as a sophomore in high school. There are probably more but these are what come to mind. Having them read these classics gave us something to discuss and broadened their horizons. Since reading them they have found references in movies, magazines, commercials and conversation.

What one book do you think everyone should read and why?

That would be a toss-up between 1984, The Giver and Lord of the Flies. Each of these explores the human condition.

What would you tell teenaged writers about the submission to publication process?

Don’t give up. No matter how many rejections you receive, rework the submission until it gets accepted. Take each rejection as a lesson that the manuscript needs more work.

Why do think teenagers are so fascinated by the paranormal and fantastic? (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, elves, demons)

Teenagers feel immortal. Their brains tell them they can’t die, so they search out fearful images to test themselves. That’s why slasher films are marketed at them. But this fallacy in thinking is why there are so many teenaged driving deaths/accidents, suicides and pregnancies.

You’ve been asked to choose 5-10 books for a space capsule. What would you choose and why?

1-1984 by George Orwell, it shows what can happen to society that is too tightly controlled; embodies the Dystopian novel
2-Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, it embodies futurism in literature
3-Harry Potter by JK Rowling, helps give kids hope they can make a difference; interesting use of magic overlapping with the ‘real’ world
4-Lord of the Flies by William Golding, shows what happens to society without controls
5-How To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, demonstrates man inhumanity to man
6-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mead, historical about the Civil War, hopeful about overcoming oppression
7-anything by Shakespeare, incredible use of language, structure, symbolism
8-Dante’s Inferno, amazing imagination and use of language
9-Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm, classic stories that change as you grow

If your child declared they were going to be an author while a senior in high school, how would you respond?

I’ve actually been faced with this scenario. Two of my children are headed for the publication field. One is interested in the Graphic Arts field after taking two years of Journalism in college and the other wants to be a gaming journalist. He’s the editor of the high school newspaper this year. My response was and is – get a degree and go for it.

If you weren’t an author what other job would be doing?

I loved teaching and would still be doing it had it not changed so dramatically.

How is being an author different from what you thought it would be like?

I thought being an author meant someone paying me to write books while they did the marketing and selling so I could then write more and more. However, writing has changed so much the author must now do much of their own marketing and selling which reduces the time spent writing.

When you decided to pursue publication, did you realize what marketing and promotion would entail?

I hoped to find a publisher that would do it all. But things didn’t work out that way so I’m learning more about marketing than I ever thought I would need to know. I decided to go with a new small publishing house because of the ‘family’ atmosphere (which has lived up to the promise) and while they do some promoting, most of it falls on the authors’ shoulders. But that’s the way the business is evolving at the moment.

How has your concept of marketing, platform building, promotion changed since you wrote your first word?

I’d never heard of platforming or branding before writing my book. Now I’ve built a pretty sizable platform, which means getting my name into the Internet in various ways. And I’m still putting it out there. I recently began a grog (group blog) with several YA/MG authors for giving teens advice for writing and publication.; I have several websites and another blog not to mention all the writers’ sites I have profiles on and the various readers’ sites I belong to. All of this can be seen at

If technology did not exist, would you still pursue writing and publishing?

Yes. I wrote via pad and pen long before computers came along.

Do you prefer publishing fifty years ago when the big houses ruled or today when eBooks and POD allow anyone to publish?

I think I prefer today’s publishing atmosphere because while ‘anyone’ can get a story ‘out there’, readers also have an easier time accessing books via eReaders and computers.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the interview.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Disappearing Article on Anglo-Saxonisms

By BodieP posted on the Blood Red Pencil, but seems to have disappeared! I am reposting the entire article because I feel it is important. Why? Because our (English) language is a moving, breathing entity that is NOT under the law and auspices of the powers that be. Excellent article and I'd like to hear from Bodie about it.

"In the common words we use every day, souls of past races, the thoughts and feelings of individual men stand around us, not dead, but frozen into their attitudes like the courtiers in the garden of the Sleeping Beauty." --Owen Barfield

It is a fact that conquerors write the history books--and determine the language in which they will be written. This is as true today as it was in 1066, when William the Bastard (so called because he was an illegitimate son—a “bastard”—and not because he was a mean, underhanded character) crossed the English Channel and defeated England’s King Harold at the Battle of Hastings to become William the Conqueror. Like the Norman nobles to whom he awarded England’s castles, fiefdoms, and plum government positions, William spoke Norman French.

For England’s commoners, the change was profound. Climbing from the ranks of field laborer or peasant to a more secure, less physically taxing job in the castle had always meant learning a skill of some kind--cooking, cleaning, child-minding, or, if one was of a clerkish turn, sums or, in rare instances, reading. When William stormed through, he left a new criterion in his wake. Economic and social advancement now required learning not only a skill, but the language of culture, of status, of the law, and of the new ruling class--Norman French.

And that’s why my mother once washed my mouth out with soap for saying “shit.” It was Lava, with a harsh topnote and a chalky undernote paired with a gritty texture, if anyone wants to know. I was what is commonly known as a “potty mouth,” and quite the connoisseur of soaps by that point. My mother justified her actions by saying it was “swearing”—which is wasn’t, my word of choice was a vulgarity, not a swear word. What neither of us knew was that my mother was doing what mothers have been doing for nearly a thousand years—reinforcing an old prejudice dating from the day that William decided to change his last name from Bastard to Conqueror. Here’s the story.

The Norman triumph in 1066 meant not only that England had a new king and ruling class, but that little children who had previously been praised for saying, "Gotta shit, ma," shortly before soiling their breech clothes rather than shortly after suddenly found themselves receiving slaps, and the stern injunction to use the French or Latin word for the function, rather than the "vulgar" word, the word used by the "common" people. The very words "vulgar" and "common," which had referred collectively to the vast majority of the people, became insults.

Previously widely-accepted Anglo-Saxon words became markers for lack of achievement, for stupidity, for dirt under one's fingernails, for, in the words of the auto manufacturers, those who must shower after work, as opposed to those who choose to shower before work.

The story might have ended there, except for a remarkable fact about the Anglo-Saxon heritage. Consider these facts:
• William the Bastard came from Normandy. He spoke Norman French.
• His nobles also came from Normandy, and spoke Norman French.
• The Anglo-Saxon mothers interested in advancing their children socially and politically forced their children to learn Norman French.
• For quite some little time, everyone who was anyone in England--spoke Norman French.
• So why don't we speak Norman French?

The answer is one of the interesting anomalies of history--we speak English for the same reason that we have Congress, and England has Parliament. We speak English because the Anglo Saxons had a long tradition of according certain rights to common folks--the people who throughout most of the world were seen as little more than cattle, and sometimes as less. That tradition filtered up the food chain in those castles, and the smarter nobles realized that there were very few of "us" and an awful lot of "them," and wouldn't it be great if "we" knew what "they" were saying? Many of the Norman nobles married Anglo-Saxon wives. For such couples, learning each other’s language was more or less a necessity. It wasn’t long after the conquest that an Anglo-Saxon noble wife was warning her Norman French husband of impending trouble—in English.

And so the nobles began what is arguably one of the great linguistic reversals in history. The winners might have written the history books--but the losers chose the language in which they wrote. In a triumph of practicality and humanism, Medieval England decided that language and communication was more important than making a point about who was in charge. English became the language of the land. But by then it was too late; some of the “word courtiers” had been frozen into decidedly uncourtly attitudes.

But that was all right. When English re-established itself as the language of power, it didn’t do it by defeating French so much as by absorbing it—a characteristic it has retained to the present day. Because English absorbed so many words from Norman French—experts estimate that the average non-French-speaking English speaker knows around 15,000 French words—we can express shades and nuances that simply aren’t possible in other languages. When English re-established itself as the language of power in England it did so with a drastically simplified grammar and a far richer vocabulary.

For example, we can refer to a rose’s “aroma,” as the Norman French did, its fragrance, its smell, its odor, or its “stench,” as the Old English did. In more common parlance, consider how the many words we have for foods made from ground grain and then cooked—we have bread, pancakes, tortillas, all of the pastas, baguettes, croissants, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Our language reveals an important fact about our society—we conquer through syncretism and inclusion, rather than by subjection and exclusion.

We speak English because we are the fortunate heirs to an ancient tradition in which the words of everyone--not just those in power, are important. We speak English because in the Anglo-American tradition not only are we all subject to the same law, but we all have a right to be heard and understood. We speak English because common people matter.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our linguistic history has marked our perceptions. We still regard “common” and “vulgar” things as low-class, not middle-class. And, as my own experience bears out, mothers are still punishing their children for using good old Anglo-Saxon words not because the words themselves are “bad” (though that is often the justification) but because using the words frozen in “low” attitudes often brands us in public opinion, as well.

Which isn’t to say that we don’t need those words. Those vulgarities add a bass note to our linguistic choir. They carry their own nuance. English doesn’t just absorb words willy-nilly, but because it needs those words to reflect experience. As a wise scholar once said, “Shit happens.” As writer, nice lady, and reluctant chicken farmer Betty MacDonald says in her book The Egg and I, “Sometimes a ‘son of a bitch rolls trippingly off the tongue’.” If the day ever comes when shit no longer happens and Mrs. MacDonald is proven wrong about what rolls off the tongue, perhaps the words will fade away.

Note: This discussion applies only to vulgarities and in some cases obscenities, which refer to bodily functions, and not to curses and swearing, which generally involve the name of a religious figure or concept. Those words follow a different path altogether.

Meet Rebecca Ryals Russell - Part 1

This is the first part of a three-part interview with author Rebecca Ryals Russell. Watch for the next segments over the next week.

The Yellow Hat Author
Where did the concept for your current book come from?

The concept for Seraphym Wars Series, Odessa has been brewing for twenty-five years. I started it several times but finally sat down and let it pour into the computer about three years ago.

How long have you been working on your latest book (concept to editing)?

Book 1 Odessa took about two and a half years from start to finish of actual writing, rewriting, editing, submission. The next book hasn’t taken nearly as long. I guess I was pretty much learning my way through the process.

How many books do you have published?

Odessa is my debut novel. I currently have three contracts, however. Odessa comes out April 2011, Zarena comes out July 2011 and Don’t Make Marty Mad comes out Oct 2011, but it’s a horror story and not intended for teens or children.

What interferes with your muse and what do you do about that?

I have discovered the more I write the more active my Muse has become. I see stories everywhere and in most conversations I have or overhear. I try to write during the morning, while everyone is at work or school or very late at night and they all know if they get the ‘stare’ it means I’m concentrating and to wait their turn. If I do find my Muse wandering, however, I turn to a different work in progress and the change of project helps.

Where do you perform your best writing? Why?

I have an awesome desk set-up in the living room. It allows me to be with the family but write or plan or answer emails. I write daily, finding time where I can.

Who was your greatest influence on your writing? Do they know it?

My father should have been a published writer but never had the gumption to pursue it. He was always writing poems and stories for occasions and I found one he’d begun after he died. It was he who introduced me to classic literature where my love of writing really grew. I like to think he’s watching me and is proud that I’ve succeeded where he didn’t.

But I’d have the say my greatest influence has been and continues to be my husband. He supports me daily by reading and commenting or editing, by putting up with late dinner or ‘do it yourself’ dinner.

Did you grow up in a ‘reading’ household? Do you believe that had anything to do with your becoming an author?

My father was a teacher while I grew up then a principal. My mother was a school head secretary. So our home was always full of reading material. It was Daddy who showed me what good literature looked like. We discussed Lord of the Rings and Ray Bradbury and Lord of the Flies after I read each of them. He was responsible for instilling my love of a good story.

My own children have grown up in a reading household because my husband is a voracious reader (bought an iPad soon after their release) and we have a pretty good sized library of books.

What was your favorite childhood activity and why?

I sat on the grass under our grape arbor, where it was shady, and watched the critters in the South Florida canal that ran behind my house while I wrote poetry, stories, songs for my guitar and day dreamed. I have a box full of these early literary creations.

As a youngster, what did you want to be when you grew up? When did this change, if it did.

I planned on being a teacher from the time I started school. I even held ‘school’ in our utility room with my best friend and younger sister. Daddy would bring home old mimeograph papers that I would ‘assign’. And I had a stand-up chalkboard as well. We even had a little school desk for my ‘student’. I taught for nearly fifteen years with a break to raise my family and only quit when I came back after twelve years and found the system so changed I no longer enjoyed teaching. That’s when I began writing.

Do you think people who are especially good at something, writers, singers, musicians, artists, etc, were born with talent or can it be fostered throughout a lifetime?

I believe people are born with certain abilities and interests. Whether these are fostered or not can sometimes make a difference in what they achieve in life. But there have been people born in dire circumstances who overcame them in order to succeed on their own.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Reblog: What the Heck is a Simurgh?

What is a Simurgh?

A recent review of "Quest for the Simurgh" by Clayton Bye asked the question. Now, I was definitely under the impression that everybody in the world knows what a simurgh is, but I guess I was wrong.

Anyway, if you’ve read the 1001 Arabian Nights or even saw the movie with John Leguizamo, you’ll be familiar with the intelligent Big Bird. From the Encyclopedia Mythica (my favorite source for all things mythic):

In Persian legend Simurgh is a gigantic, winged monster in the shape of a bird; a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. Its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. According to legend, the creature is so old that it has seen the world destroyed three times over. In all that time, Simurgh has learned so much that it is thought to possess the knowledge of all ages.
My Mashup

I pretty much stick to the traditional description here except for that dog head and lion claws thing. Considering that the Simurgh know everything (really, not like that annoying guy at work who just thinks he knows everything), then it seemed logical to me and my heroine Faiza to ask them where to find the missing magician.

The boys in the little band of rescuers scoff at her, but it all works out anyway. The search for the bird does get them into the mountains where they need to be to save the world from Armageddon. You’ll have to admit that is just a teensy bit more important then finding an old magician. It’s all good, though. The magician finds the kids and the birds.

A note on the cover of the book: At the top of this post is a real page on the Simurgh from a real Arabic text dating back to circa 900 AD. I don’t see any dog’s head or lion claws. Do you?

Friday, September 03, 2010

An Invitation from My Publisher

One of my publishers, MuseItUp, is opening a shiny new on-line bookstore on October 1st. The celebratory housewarming includes free book giveaways and lots of fun author appearance which includes costumes, videos, fun facts, and lots of goodies.

Read the details on the MuseItUp blog.

The other thing you want to do is join the Yahoo group for MIU readers. That's where you'll get the chance to win the free stuff.

I'm champing at the bit to join in the fun myself, attend MIU's humongous on-line writers' conference October 11-17, and have my own book, "Missing, Presumed Dead," released. Alas, the latter won't be until July, 2011. Will I still be alive? Can I hold my breath that long?

Fortunately, I have a book release in November, which I'll bruit about widely and invite my friends and fellow authors to help me advertise. "Ultimate Duty," a scifi romance will be released by Eternal Press on November 7th.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Seek the Truth and Ye Shall Find

It disturbs me that I get various and sundry emails from my less enlightened relatives claiming all sorts of right-wing blather about liberals, Obama, Democrats (not the same thing as liberals), immigration, Ground Zero mosques (there aren't any planned), etc. etc. etc.

I would like to remind people that there is an excellent source of TRUTHFUL information covering just about all those no-nothing, small-minded lies from people who just pass along crap when they get it in their in-box.

Try Snopes to find out the truth of the matter before you send me an email. I WILL look at Snopes and, if you're wrong, I will consider you to be a Neanderthalic ignoramous. Would you care what I think of you? Probably not since you seem completely unable to bend yourself away from your neo-con, Tea Party mindset.

Hey! Try it out. You might just find you're right. Unlikely, but there's always a snowball's chance in hell.

Check for the truth at