Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twitter #hashtags

I'm passing this along since I use Twitter, but haven't seen a list of the relevant hashtags for writers.

Read the entire article at Daily Writing Tips.

Here are a few that I'll be using in future posts:

#amediting posts from people who are editing
#amwriting posts from people who are writing

I also recommend using genre hashtags if you're linking to your book buy site:


and any others you can add. Hey, make up a new one and start a trend!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Bottle of Djinn Redux

This post is the all-time favorite of people finding my blog through search engines. It gets twenty-five and more hits every single day. Completely throws off my stats for newer posts. If I have a great interview or article by a very cool author, what do people look at? The first incarnation of A Bottle of Djinn. I think I should bring the post up to date, and see if I can get some hits on my more recent blog postings. So here tis.

A BOTTLE OF DJINN (Posted 3/31/2010)

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?

Basit Illustration by 7ARS
 My Mashup (Updated)

In “The Tales of Abu Nuwas” Basit 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 every adventure except one: Cliffhanger. 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 Volfass, 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. The eboo editions are only 99 cents at Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook).

If you like paperbacks, B&N has the best price at $8.95.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jo Ramsey - Blog Tour for "Cutting Cords"

The E-Future of Young Adult Books by Jo Ramsey

Jo will be giving away an autographed ARC of "Cutting Cords" to a lucky commenter. Be sure to comment to have a chance to win. Visit Jo's website at http://www.joramsey.com/

When I was growing up, we had books. They were made of paper and had pages you could turn with a finger. New ones sometimes smelled a little strange; old ones sometimes smelled a little musty. But they were a lot of fun to read.

Nowadays, print books still exist, but there are other options. With the wide availability of e-reading devices, e-books are becoming more common by the day. Some publishers are rushing to release e-versions of print books from years ago, and some publishers offer print and e-books simultaneously for their new releases.

A recent report on CNN stated that the best-selling genre for e-books is romance. I don’t know how e-book sales sort out after that. Since I write young adult fiction, I am of course interested in how YA e-books sell. My publisher is one of the ones that releases print and e-books at the same time, so both are available for my Reality Shift series. Looking at the bestseller list on my publisher’s site, it looks like the e-copy of Connection, Reality Shift book 1, is selling somewhat better than the print version, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that YA e-books are going to generally sell better than print.

I’ve spoken with a number of teenagers who say they prefer print books. More kids have e-reading devices now than in the past, but even the kids who have them sometimes would rather read a print version than an e-version. I definitely don’t think that e-books are going to kick print books out of the market any time soon.

For authors and publishers, the biggest advantage of e-books over print is that e-books cost less to produce, and authors often receive higher royalties—or at least a higher percentage of the cover price as a royalty—than they do for print. However, I don’t know of any e-only YA publishers (that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, just that I don’t know about them), nor are any of the publishers I am familiar with planning on switching to e-books only.

If you’re self-publishing, it might be worth doing e-books only. There’s been a lot of buzz around the internet lately about an author or two who are making thousands or more by selling YA e-books. But just like not every print book is going to sell as well as Harry Potter or Twilight, not every e-book is going to sell thousands or millions of copies. Self-publishers, though, might find e-books more cost-effective.

I’m published by a publisher, Jupiter Storm, so the choice of print books, e-books, or both isn’t mine to make. The publisher is planning to continue offering both print and e-books as far as I know. And that’s what I would advise if I were asked for advice. Even though e-books might be less expensive to produce, there are still a lot of people who’d rather read a print book. So I think both are good options.


When Shanna’s father moves out, leaving Shanna alone with her mother, her home life goes from bad to worse. At least she has Jonah to remind her that she deserves a good life, even if she doesn’t always believe him.

Stressed about her parents’ separation and worried about what it will mean for her, Shanna is glad for the distraction of her friend Tammi’s request for information about guides. Although Shanna is still learning, she knows how to answer Tammi’s questions. The problem is, the entity Tammi is asking about isn’t really a guide. It’s a dead spirit who wants to take over Tammi’s life. And Shanna discovers that another entity, one with the power to destroy our universe, wants to use Tammi as well.

Guided by Jonah and Tethys, and helped by another being of light, Shanna must send the dead spirit to the afterlife before it’s too late—for Tammi and for the entire Universe.
Jonah confirmed my instinct by saying, “Yeah, Shanna and I have some important stuff to do. She’ll call you later and let you know what we can do to help you.”

Tammi glared at him. “Why do you have the right to decide what Shanna’s going to do?”

“He isn’t deciding,” I corrected. “He’s agreeing with me. Tammi, I’m sorry. I have plans with Jonah.”

“Yeah, I can just imagine what those plans are,” she said snottily.

I bit my tongue. Literally. I refused to give in and run off like I usually did when someone implied something like that. I didn’t think the words had actually come from Tammi, even though they’d exited her mouth. Tarina wanted to try to shake me. “You have a better imagination than I do, then,” I replied, keeping my voice calm. “Like I said, we’re going to talk about how to help you.”

“I don’t need any help from freaks like you,” she snapped.

I started to answer. Jonah put his hand on my arm and said to Tammi, “I’m sure you feel that way now. However, you’ve already asked for our help. We don’t give up that easily.” He let go of me. “Come on, Shanna.”

I didn’t even bother taking my books out of my locker. I only had two assignments due the next day, and if I didn’t finish them, I’d take the consequences. Hurrying away from Tammi/Tarina was more important, before the ache in my gut became real pain. The ache in my third energy center, to be precise. Where I always felt something when a negative entity or even a negative person hung around me. Somehow I knew Tarina’s presence caused the feeling. “See you tomorrow, Tammi,” I said sweetly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Debut Book Trailer - Missing, Assumed Dead

My suspense/mystery novel "Missing, Assumed Dead" is close to publication. Close if you think in galactic time. Nevertheless, July 2011 is not that far away, so I've put together my book trailer for your amusement.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

WATCH FOR Blog Guest Jo Ramsay on March 24th - YA Cutting Cords


When Shanna’s father moves out, leaving Shanna alone with her mother, her home life goes from bad to worse. At least she has Jonah to remind her that she deserves a good life, even if she doesn’t always believe him.

Stressed about her parents’ separation and worried about what it will mean for her, Shanna is glad for the distraction of her friend Tammi’s request for information about guides. Although Shanna is still learning, she knows how to answer Tammi’s questions. The problem is, the entity Tammi is asking about isn’t really a guide. It’s a dead spirit who wants to take over Tammi’s life. And Shanna discovers that another entity, one with the power to destroy our universe, wants to use Tammi as well.

Guided by Jonah and Tethys, and helped by another being of light, Shanna must send the dead spirit to the afterlife before it’s too late—for Tammi and for the entire Universe.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Myths and Legends - Fairies, Faeries, Fey


Photo Copyright Jen Lars
Many many, many, many writers are in love with the Celtic myths. I’ve delved into them, too. However, I’m not a big fan of the flitty little cute faeries (or fae or fairies). In Celt mythology, there’s a fairy (or fae or faerie) for just about any purpose. The “serious” fantasies love the idea of the fairy troupe. More than a few equate fairies to Arthurian legends, more specifically Merlin.

The third book in the Witches of Galdorheim series, Scotch Broom, is set in the Scottish Highlands. Of course, I had to include at least one fairy in the mix or I’d be violating some unwritten fantasy rule.

If you write Celtic fantasy, then you know that Sidhe is pronounced Shee in Ireland and Sith in Scotland. I wonder where George Lucas got Sith lords? Hmm.

Anyway, I found a particular sidhe I liked. She’s a big black cat with a white chest. Aha! I happen to have the model for said cat (in a much reduced size) sitting at my door every morning demanding a handout. We call her Bitch Kitty. Yes, she has attitude in spades. So, there’s my model for Cait Sidhe, a companion to my erstwhile heroine, Kat.

My Mashup: From Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim

Kat has already found two companions: Sianach a stag and Cusith (another sidhe) a giant, green hound. They’re tromping through the swamps trying to find the Trow King’s hall in the middle of the Otherworld (the alternate magic world in the Scottish Highlands).


They marched on in a straight line, having no better idea of which direction to go, while Cusith zigzagged ahead of them with his nose close to the earth. Suddenly, the green hound raised his head and bayed. A moment later he galloped across the moor, water splashing when his huge paws hit the tiny pools.

“What’s up with him?” Kat asked.

Sianach lifted his chin for a better view. “He appears to be in pursuit of an animal of some type.”

“I hope he’s not hurting some little swamp creature.”

“If he is, then the beast is making Cusith pay for the privilege.”

Kat and Sianach walked faster after Cusith, the dog’s trail marked by flying grass and water. When Cusith finally stopped, Kat and Sianach trotted to catch up. The hound was standing over something furry and black that lay on the ground beneath his huge paw.

“No, don’t! Don’t hurt it,” Kat called out. Cusith turned his head toward her, tongue lolling.
“I won’t. It’s not food.”

Kat reached Cusith’s side and knelt down to examine the raggedy clump of ebony fur. It leapt up, scrabbling for a foothold, but Cusith clamped his paw down harder to hold it still.

“It’s a cat!” Kat said. She reached out with her mind, but met the same blank wall she had with Sianach and Cusith. So, she tried the old-fashioned way. “Here kitty, kitty. Nice kitty.” An ear-splitting yowl almost knocked Kat back on her rear.

“I am not your ‘nice kitty,’ you rude thing! I am Cait Sidhe, I’ll have you know. Surely, this stag . . . and mutt . . . have heard of me.”

Sianach, who stood to one side to stay out of the fray, nodded his elegant head. “Yes, I know you. Not that it is a pleasure.”

The cat hissed and swiped a pawful of razor sharp claws across Cusith’s foot. The big dog quickly released the black cat. “Sorry, Cait,” Cusith said. “Just having some fun.”

Cait sat up and licked a couple of swipes over the white spot on her chest. “Now you’ve covered me with mud. It’ll take hours to get clean again.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

What I Did On My Vacation

I spent the week with my good buddy Liz in Las Vegas. We didn't think about the co-incidence of St. Paddy's Day with College Spring Break. Roving herds of college boys jamming the streets drinking green beer in yard-long plastic containers. Woo and hoo. Next time we Vegas, I'll check the calendar. I really do prefer being able to walk down Las Vegas Blvd. without being stepped on.

We did manage to see four shows, all good. Those 1/2 price tickets places cause less sticker shock. No, we didn't bother with Celine. Wait, we did see Celine, but she was a he and more than fabulous. Most fun show for me was DIVAS at the Imperial Palace. Since we were staying there, we got a coupon, so we went for the VIP seats and got a good spot down front.

The guys were absolutely marvalous! (yes, that's misspelled on purpose). The impersonators are very talented, and we had a great time.

Funniest show ever was "Menopause the Musical." I didn't think I'd care for it (being in the bracket of those who are being parodied), but I laughed more than I have in a long time...maybe ever. Bring kleenex to mop the tears running down your face from laughing your ass off. Huge fun for male or female, in the change or not.

"Matsuri" was also a great bargain for a very entertaining show featuring a troupe of Japanese (and other Asians too most likely). The guy with the yoyo was da bomb.

"Improv" was fine as a twofer special. I would have been disappointed at full price, but there's a reason coupons are available. The show featured two stand-up comedians and a comic host. I can't remember the names, but it's no matter since the comics change regularly. It's fun to see a good stand-up. The PR-Irish lady was hilarious, the black guy not bad (some jokes went over my head), and the hostess was a little too chirpy for my taste.

Be warned that drinks cost a freaking fortune at any of the shows. Consider going dry while in the theatre and be happy you saved $11 or $12 off the ticket price by teetotalling.

Liz had the decent pic-taking camera, so I'll have to wait to post photos until she sends some.

A good time had, much money spent, hot weather appreciated, glad to be home even if hubby didn't go grocery shopping like he should have. No food in the house. Bah!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Newspaper

An app providing a lot of the stuff you'd see in Twitter and Facebook is now available converted into a newpaper style feed. It picks up articles from links and sorts them out into columns. Yeah, it looks a whole lot like a newspaper.

My "newspaper" is updated twice daily, so I can see some of what's been going on in Twitter without actually going to Twitter.

It's easy to make your own newspaper. Go to http://paper.li/ and enter your Twitter sign-on. The app whirs away and robo-collects your news.

I'm not sure what to make of this yet, but I certainly thought it was interesting.

Take a look at my newspaper here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Identity Crisis

I bounce around the various websites, social media outlets, and other authors' blogs as much as I can. That's what you do to sell your books.

Romance writers go to the romance sites. Science fiction writers go to the SF sites. Paranormal writers flit about between fantasy and romance. There are most likely Yahoo groups and blogs dedicated to historical fiction (also flitting toward the romance), military (maybe with the scifi?), women's fiction (back to romance), LGBT (they're all over the place too), erotica (romance, etc.), YA, etc.

At least I don't have to cover every single one of those genres or I'd have to...

Uh, yeah, I do have to cover all those genres. The result is that I'm having to cover too much thereby making my attempts to be that flukey best-selling indie ebook writer, or at least sell a few books.

This is freaking wearing me out and yet I'm getting nowhere really fast and wasting huge amounts of time doing it. Write something new? Big fat chance of that. I'm on this freaking computer from first cup of coffee on until dinner prep time. What am I doing? Visiting blogs, groups, tweeting, facebooking, kindleboarding, etc. Oh, then I'm also supposed to write a brilliant blog post every day. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

I think I will drop out for awhile. Just to regroup, decide what I want to do when I grow up, and maybe not spend all freaking day with butt in chair.

MuseItUp Publishing (bless their dear little hearts) is releasing one of my books in July. I figure I can get back into the promo action again a month or so before that release. By the way, it's a murder mystery. F**K! Another genre to group, face, tweet, blog, board, blab. Why can't I leave well enough alone? Why did I have to add yet another genre to my burden.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

See Inside Feature at B&N

I'm not sure how long this has been around, but I just discovered that I could upload the interior PDF and cover files for my print books on Barnes & Noble. I uploaded five of my books a couple of weeks ago. It took some time, but all five now have a similar feature to the Amazon feature.

If you are a self-pubber, you need to learn how to maximize your visibility (okay, so I'm hardly a marketing whiz) on the major on-line distributors. A big part of this is giving potential buyers the ability to read a few pages first.

Kindle and Nook were created with the feature built-in from day one. You can download samples of ebooks before buying.

I have found this to be an essential tool when I'm deciding where to put my money for reading material.

I started a thread in the Kindle forums asking authors to post their 99 cent Kindle books (not romance). A bit into the thread I volunteered to download samples and write evaluations. I've done a bunch of them and found several wonderful books for less than a buck.

Click here if you'd like to check in on the thread where I shred ebook samples. My evaluations start near the bottom of the first page.

St. Patrick's Day Contest

Join in on the shamrock counting at MuseItUp and win $25 worth of books. Runs March 8-11, so hurry over to play.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Interview - John Bushore

John Bushore writes a variety of genres. I reviewed one of his releases, "Prisoners of Gender," and thought it was a blast (read my review here). I also loved "Friends in Dark Places," published through Sam's Dot Publishing (read my review here). He has a few other books either already out there (links will follow) and a brand-new release from Damnation Books today!

Thank you for joining us today, John. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you and can I have a picture of you in your pirate outfit?

So you’ve heard about MonkeyJohn the Pirate, have you? I work for a public school system and, for the last few years, I’ve volunteered to read Dr. Seuss to grade school children on National Reading Day, which happens to be today. So that’s how I spent my morning, reading GREEN EGGS AND HAM, replete with “arrghs” and other pirate talk. I did seven classrooms today and had a great deal of fun, despite the sore throat.

Your readers can find me at my site http://www.johnbushore.com (there’s even pictures of my pirate outfit) or at my blog http://monkeyjohnsblog.blogspot.com. I don’t blog about writing, though; it’s all about my life on a few acres at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. But the blog’s been taken over by a four-legged blogger. The name’s Cocker. James Cocker, secret agent P-double-o-P.

I know you've got a couple of new releases. Would you tell everyone a bit about your books including the buy links?

Well, February, Black History Month, saw the publication of my new slavery/historical novel, “…AND REMEMBER THAT I AM A MAN.” Based on the 1843 NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF MOSES GRANDY, it explores the cultural, religious and economic pressures allowing slavery to endure in a new nation that promises justice for all, yet allows states to practice slavery.

The mid-grade novel, BOY IN CHAINS, is also available. It’s pretty hard for a teen today to imagine life without computers, video games, electricity and indoor plumbing. But things could be worse. How about being born into slavery? In his teen years, Moses is hired out yearly and experiences both kindly and cruel masters, forging his character and his faith in God, which he will need to fight against slavery.

And then there’s WOLFWRAITH, a paranormal/suspense novel being published by Damnation Books this month. And let me state clearly that, despite the cover, it’s NOT a werewolf novel, but a mystery that combines an exotic location – False Cape State Park on the coast of Virginia– with Native American mysticism, shipwreck legends and Pre-Colonial witches. I volunteered in this wilderness park (where visitors must hike or bike in) a few years back and it has enough “spooky” stuff to make anyone think twice about camping there.

All of my books are available at Amazon. Links are provided below.


"...and Remember that I Am a Man." Where did the concept for the book come about? How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

Years ago, I was researching the Great Dismal Swamp for a location to set a short story. I came across the 1843 Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, which fascinated me. I asked around at the school system where I work, and there was little knowledge of his story, even among local black history teachers. I began researching more local history and eventually decided to write a “mid-grade” novel about Grandy’s youth for students. It grew into a 135,000 word fictional autobiography that took 6 years of research and three years writing and re-writing. The title is from a Frederick Douglass quote. I couldn’t get any agents interested and finally decided to publish it myself, using Amazon’s CreateSpace, so I could at least get local distribution. Along with “Remember,” I brought out the original mid-grade novel, Boy in Chains.

Wolfwraith: I wrote Wolfwraith several years ago as a personal challenge. Could I take a locale that I was familiar with and create an interesting story-line? At the time, I volunteered at a remote park, five miles from the nearest road. There were wild horses, feral pigs, weathered cemeteries, the remains of an old church, and plenty of legends and shipwreck lore. The park was named False Cape because the early inhabitants would use torches to imitate the lighthouses that marked the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Many captains were fooled into running their ships aground, where their cargoes were “salvaged.” This is how I got interested in Virginia history and I think I came up with a damned good story that will make you think twice about going camping in the wilderness.

The Prisoners of Gender: While I was working on “…and Remember that I Am a Man.”, I needed a break since writing about misery can be pretty bleak. I came up with the idea of writing a bawdy romance spoof where a wizard switches the personalities of a man and a woman. In it, they learn that sexual preferences aren’t as importance as feelings. To my surprise, I got a response from the transgender community. I was called a hack and taken to task for not including “Cartesian Dualism,” whatever the hell that is.

Name a few writers who have influenced your writing and why.

I have to say James Michener, first of all. He managed to take regional history and bring it to life. As a young man, he managed to take me to times and places that made history interesting.

Robert A. Heinlein was a favorite because he brought characters to life. Sometimes the same character was brought BACK to life. His dialogue always sparkled and made you feel like you knew the people in his novels and stories.

Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

My muse never shuts up. Unfortunately, sometimes, my mouth has the same problem. Part of my job includes local travel between schools and I rarely listen to music while driving. I write and re-write scenes in my head, so when I sit down at the keyboard, it just flows out. I hope I haven’t run over anyone’s pet on the road, because I’d probably not even notice.

Do you have any new projects you're working on at present? If so, what are they?

I rarely have time to write lately because of all the promotion and production involved in bringing 3 novels out in 2 months, which was totally unplanned. But…

I’m hoping to soon bring out an anthology of The Spacemonkey Adventures, which were published in Beyond Centauri magazine. So far, however, I haven’t found an artist to add some color to the stories. I’m also working on a Vietnam war/romance novel, The Summer of Love, but I bog down whenever I write a scene that I actually was part of – and I don’t mean sex scenes, either. It’s just that some of the stuff that REALLY happens in the military is a bit hard to believe.

And the sequel to Wolfwraith, titled Wendigo is about halfway done. I set it aside for a while because I felt like I was wasting time writing a sequel to a work that hadn’t been published. Like I mentioned with the muse, it’s all in my head, just have to put it down.

What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?

Make sure your manuscript and query letter, etc. are in top-notch shape in regards to spelling, grammar and punctuation, dialogue, characterization, plotting and a zillion other things. If you’re not sure, join a writing or critique group or even pay for proofreading. Honest critique is the most valuable thing a writer could with for.

Having said that however, sometimes it’s not HOW you write, but WHAT you write. While I was querying a series of 40 agents for my historical novel, my 23-year-old daughter queried 10 for a young adult romance. I got zero interest, she had 3 agents CALL her within a week. Most agents take what they think is hot. If I’d written my novel soon after Alex Hailey’s Roots came out, I think the tables would be turned. Just so I don’t leave anyone wondering, my daughter signed with a top agent and she’s had interest from publishers, but no contract yet.

If you'd like to add anything, please do so.

Marva, haven’t you learned yet not to ask me an open-ended question? Like I said earlier, I never shut up. Let me just say that, whether dressed like a pirate or not, I can make any woman in my school system hot. Have I mentioned I control all the thermostats?

How about an excerpt or two to tantalize the readers?

Or bore them to death? Writers always take that chance. Here’s something from Wolfwraith:

Alex cut the engine back to idle as they nosed into the marsh grass. Once in position, he steadied the boat with an oar while they considered their find.

“What now?” asked Shadow, feeling uneasy. “Do we leave her so they can get pictures or anything?”

He hoped it would be the case. He'd seen plenty of bodies in his time, but none had been a young woman and he hadn't had to pull them out of a bay. Or maybe the rocking of the boat was throwing his stomach into a cauldron of nausea.

“No, we’ll take her in. It’s obviously nothing more than a drowning.” Alex pushed the boat closer with the oar. “Can you handle it?”

“Yeah, of course.”

Shadow reached out and grabbed the dainty arm with his right hand. Bile rose in his throat at the unnatural coldness of no-longer-quite-human-feeling skin and the sponginess of slack muscles beneath. The corpse emitted no strong odor, but the rotted-fish stench of the tidal marsh, which Shadow normally didn’t even notice, clogged his nostrils. The putt-putting of the idling outboard motor seemed far away, but the reek of the engine’s oily exhaust seared the tissue inside his nose.

He sensed something else, too. His inner soul responded as he touched the cold, dead wrist. He had once shocked himself with a faulty extension cord and this cold feeling was the spiritual equivalent of that physical electrical shock—a shiver of dread whispering its way up his arm. The knowledge of evil having recently been here was intangible, but undeniable. He’d sometimes been present when his grandmother Min had called upon ancient spirits, even though she worshipped alongside her husband at the Baptist church. Now, many years later, he recognized the presence of something not of this world.

Ignoring his emotional turmoil, he concentrated on the job at hand and applied a steady pressure while he pulled the arm closer to the boat. Her brown hair floated in the water, undulating with the waves. Leaning over the gunwale, he switched and grabbed the arm with the claw and reached his clumsy right hand down into the frigid water, searching around for a grip to pull the body up. By accident, he went down into her shirt and under her bra. Suddenly, to his surprise, he cupped a breast in an obscene parody of a teen-age grope.

"He's a pervert you honor. Who knows what more would have happened if I hadn't come in?"

* * *
And here’s the opening of  "...and Remember that I Am a Man."

Chapter One
In the Great Dismal—1792 A.D.

My name is Moses Grandy: I was born in Camden County, North Carolina. I believe I am fifty-six years old. Slaves seldom know exactly how old they are: neither they nor their masters set down the time of a birth; the slaves, because they are not allowed to write or read; and the masters, because they only care to know what slaves belong to them.

The master, Billy Grandy, whose slave I was born, was a hard-drinking man: he sold away many slaves. I remember four sisters and four brothers; my mother had more children, but they were dead or sold away before I can remember. I was the youngest. I remember well my mother often hid us all in the woods, to prevent master selling us.

The Life of Moses Grandy—1843 A.D.

Rebecca looked nervously over her shoulder. Last year, the first time she'd run to the swamp with her children, he'd let her get away with it, but he'd warned her not to try it again, threatening the whip.

A scrawny black woman with close-cut, wiry hair, Rebecca had no idea how old she was, but she'd born thirteen children, counting the two who'd not lived. Her drab, faded dress was of rough hemp. Her feet were bare. She carried a bundle, wrapped in an old blanket.

The Great Dismal Swamp surrounded Rebecca and her family like a damp, steamy section of Hell. The day was growing hot for early summer. As they walked, juniper, gum, and maple trees towered above. Sunlight streamed down on a vast, nearby marsh pond. Baldcypress trees grew directly out of the pond, spaced out like they couldn't stand being close to one another. At the base of each tree, roots jutted from the water like jagged teeth set to protect its privacy. Many were old trees, dead and leafless, their branches emerging like skeletal fingers from behind curtains of hanging moss.

The surface of the water rippled as fish fed on floating insects, causing expanding circles of tiny waves. Near the middle of the pool, the v-shaped wake of a swimming water moccasin moved along, only the snake's head visible. Large turtles watched from fallen logs as the humans passed. Every once in a while, Rebecca would see small birds flitting about in the bushes, but the birds never chirped, as though pleasant sounds were forbidden in the swamp. The world under the trees was eerily silent except for the sucking sounds of footsteps as she and the children followed a faint path through the mire. The dank smell of a primeval world rose about them.

She had awakened the children in the middle of the night and got them started well before dawn. They'd sneaked silently out of the Grandy slave quarters. By daybreak, they'd crossed the fields and entered the swamp.

Benjamin, the oldest child, led the way. He carefully kept to the faint trail they'd used last year when hiding out. Behind him, from oldest to youngest, came Mary, Tamar, Malachai, June, Jebediah and little Moses.

Shortly after entering the swamp, Rebecca had rubbed pawpaw leaves over the children to keep mosquitoes off. It had worked for long enough. By the time the protective coating had been washed off by sweat, the mosquitoes had disappeared, gone into the shady leaves to wait out the heat of the day. But then the biting flies had showed up and she didn't know of any plant remedy to keep those pests away. Soon the children were swatting at piercing bites, ten times worse than the puny stings of mosquitoes. Each puncture mark soon swelled to a lump the size of a half-penny.

The older children didn't complain. Slave children learned to suffer silently. Not the two littlest ones, though, not yet.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I'm Interviewed Times 2

The Book Connection spotlights books and Book Tours and More spotlights authors. Or is that the other way around? Nevertheless, I'm on both blogs today with the same interview.

The Book Connection - Spotlight on Ultimate Duty

Book Tours and More - Spotlight on Marva Dasef

Please visit the blogs and leave comments. That's why these hardworking book feature/review sites do all the heavy lifting. They want your eyeballs. So give them a click and a comment.

In the distant future (before the Mayan End of Time date), Cheryl Malandrios will also review my YA fantasy, "Bad Spelling." It's the first book in The Witches of Galdorheim Series. All of them should be released before the Mayan End of Time, so you'll have the opportunity to read them.

In the meantime, if you enjoy kid's books, visit Childrens and Teens Book Connection. You'll find lots of good information and reviews for the younger set, and the authors who write for them.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Interview - Ginger Simpson

Hi Ginger! Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, why don't you tell everyone a bit about your book?

I'm here to talk about my upcoming release, Shortcomings. I never expected to be the author of a YA, but when an author's books are character driven, you deal with whoever comes through the revolving door in your brain. Cindy Johnson limped in one day, angry at society with a story to tell that delivers a great message. I highly recommend it for adults, too. It's never too late to learn how our behavior affects those around us.

Where did the concept for the book come about?

Cindy gets complete credit for the concept. I followed her lead, got in touch with my inner youth, and together we honed a story into a novel.

How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

Miss Johnson was a little reluctant at times...I think from all the hardships she's suffered while trying to make friends in a new town. When she fell quiet, I turned to more talkative characters and finished a few books ahead of hers. All in all, it took about two years.

Are there any authors that have influenced your own writing?

Of course. I'm a die hard Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. I've read everything she's written, and when I outgrew the Little House Series, I turned to every historical by Madeline Baker that I could get my hands on. She's my role model and I wish I could tell her in person one day.

Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

The only think I really listen to are the voices in my head. I work when my characters are talkative and I find something else to do when they aren't. I usually do have either the TV or radio on for soft background noise because I suffer from Objective Tinnitus, a condition caused by a malformed Carotid artery. Many people suffer from ringing in their ears, but with Objective Tinnitus, other people can hear it. If my husband and I share a pillow, he can tell when my blood pressure is elevated or I've had caffeine. His description..."sounds like a pissed off bumble bee in a jar."

As a writer, what is your greatest fear?

Death is and always has been my greatest fear. I have so much to do and so little time left if you consider that I recently turned sixty-five. I want to live long enough to see my grandson grow into an adult and kick Autism's butt.

What normally occupies your desk while writing? Pencils? Coffee mugs? Breakfast crumbs?

My desk is fairly organized. I learned the hard way that crumbs and liquids don't mix well with my keyboard. I try not to snack at my desk. Right now I'm looking at my business card holder where I've stashed a check for $54.51; a refund on an overpayment to a credit card. I'm keeping it and booking a facial. Love 'em.

Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they?

Right now my main focus is Hattie's Hero, another western historical. Although I've written in many genres, I also tend to migrate back to my favorite.

What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?

Grow a thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your work, but be persistent. There is a home for every good novel, but it sometimes takes persistence and a willingness to learn from those more experienced.

Please tell our readers where they can find you.

I recently created a new website at http://www.gingersimpson.com/ and of course, I keep a pretty active blog at http://mizging.blogspot.com/

You can also find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mizging and what kind of person would I be if I didn't tweet? http://www.twitter.com/mizging

How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?

Glad to oblige, but keep in mind this isn't from the final edited copy:

* * *
“Cindy Ann, someone wants to speak to you.” Her mother’s shrill voice pulled her from her biology book.

Cindy's eyes widened. “Me?”

Momma nodded. “And it’s a boy,” she whispered, keeping her hand firmly clamped over the mouthpiece.

Cindy stood, walked over, and took the receiver. There had to be a mistake. No one called her. She’d corresponded by mail with one old friend from Conner’s Corner for a time, but even that had fallen by the wayside. “Hello,” she croaked.

“Hi, Cindy, it’s Cory. I hope you don‘t mind that I got your number from information.”

Mind? Words failed her until she realized the silence was awkward. She had to say something. “Cory?” Her voice crackled. “What a surprise. What’s up?” Awkwardness overwhelmed her.

What’s up? What a nerdy thing to say. She bit her knuckle and waited for his response.

“I called to ask if we might get together sometime.”

Her head spun. She yanked a nearby kitchen chair over and plopped down. Had he just said he wanted to get together with her? She took a breath. “You and me?”

“Yes, I hear you’re a whiz in math, and I’m not doing so well. I’m afraid I’m gonna lose my spot on the team if I don’t bring up my grade. Would you be interested in helping me out?”

Aha! There it was. He’d sucked the air from her lungs with his call and followed it up with a knock-down punch. She struggled to keep disappointment from her voice. How could she refuse him when just hearing his voice tingled her toes. “Uh…I wouldn’t say I’m a whiz, but…Sure I…I’d be happy to help.”

“I can come to your house after school. You just name the day.”

Cindy peered through the arch into the living room. Toys littered the floor, and the bare cushions on the couch looked horrible. Her palms sweated at the thought of him coming here. “Maybe we can meet in the library. It’s better if we have some peace and quiet. I have three sisters and a brother, and there isn't much solitude around here.”

“That’d be great!” Cory’s answer came quickly. “How about tomorrow?”

"O...Okay, I'll meet you after my last class." Cindy's shoulders sagged as she hung up the phone, yet a pang of excitement surged through her. Maybe this wouldn't be the date of her dreams, but at least she was going to spend time in Cory Neil's company.

* * *
Shortcomings is now available from Muse It Up Publishing (http://www.museituppublishing.com)

Thank you, Marva for letting me ramble on. I look forward to hosting you at Dishin' It Out soon.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Print Proof for Mixed Bag Okayed

I received my print copy of Mixed Bag. Flipped through watching for those formatting goofs. Seeing non, I okie-dokied it. This means that Amazon will have it up and running very soon. Let's take a look at my handy-dandy book finder. Nope, not there yet. Well, what can I expect in one day. I'll provide the Amazon link when it shows up.

However, there is the Kindle edition. It's only 99 cents, folks. Take advantage of the price, one leg of my March Madness sale.

Also on sale for only 99 cents each: