Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Get Ready for All Things Dark and Dastardly!

This fire has nothing to do with the book.  

The gang here at All Things Writing is getting ready to launch a promotional blitz for our upcoming book, All Things Dark and Dastardly. This project has been a labor of love and we are thrilled to be approaching our publishing deadline! If all goes well, the book will be available in late October, just in time for Halloween. A few lucky readers may even have a chance to win a free copy of this fun little book.

So what's the book about?'s a mixture of murder most foul, thrills and chills, fat guys saving the world and fingers found in soup cans. I mean, really, what more can you ask for in a collection of dark stories with a distinctly humorous edge?

As the weeks progress, we'll be guiding you to check out the web page for the book, participate in some dark and dastardly contests, and be letting you know where you can purchase our macabre little tales. If you are in the great city of Austin the weekend of November 11-13, drop by the Austin Comic Con and visit our crew. We'll be there dazzling the crowds with our wit and Steve's steampunk fashion choice de jour!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review of Choke

I admit, that other than the Sherlock Holmes series (which I love), I haven’t delved much into the realm of modern mystery.

And by “much” I mean “any.”

So with that being said, I think Choke by Kaye George was a great place to start. Not only did it bypass all my preconceived notions about mystery novels, it seemed to do the same thing for the main character and fan of hard-boiled mystery novels herself, Imogene Duckworthy (Immy).

Immy’s common sense approach was very refreshing, and her small-town naivetĂ© felt down right charming (for example, when dealing with a pair of lawyers, she wonders if the plural of Lexus is, in fact, Lexi). Choke mixed just the right about of mystery with character development, and I found myself caring just as much about Immy and her family as I did finding out whodoneit.

I think that’s what I liked best about the story. It felt like something just an hour or two down HWY 71 or 290 from here, and kept me trying to solve the mystery up until the very end without reminding me I was reading a mystery novel. Good pacing, good characters, good writing. What else could you ask for?

Monday, August 22, 2011

My review of NEPHILIM by Mary Ann Loesch

This book is outside the scope of my regular fare, but I had a ball reading it. It's a dark tale (my favorite kind) of earthlings and immortals and creatures in between. The nephilim are the result of angels mating with humans. Yes, it can be done! Angels have the privilege of taking vacations on earth, doing so in earthly form. These trips can last for many, many years. The angels are forbidden from mating with humans, in fact, they don't even have much human emotion. But, if they stay earthbound long enough, some emotions creep in. And mating does occur!

You'll recognize the names of some of the starring angels--others will be new to you, I think. They will all fascinate you. Even in their earthly forms, they are powerful beings, and they all seem to be very good looking.

Faye McCoy, a talented singer in a club on Austin's Sixth Street, has been mourning the loss of her parents and her fiancé since their violent death a few years ago. She's living her life using as little energy and emotion as she can, in a sort of limbo. Azal, her guardian angel, whom she's been keeping at arm's length all this time, thinking he should have saved her family, thinks it's time for him to break through Faye's defenses and warn her that she's in danger.

Azal succeeds in recruiting Nathan Ink for the task. (That's Nathan on the cover!) Nathan runs an odd tattoo parlor on Sixth Street, one you won't ever want to find. It's called Hell's Leak and the only people who can see it are those who need it, great sinners. Nathan has a unique method of tattooing these customers, some greedy, some lustful, some prideful, all exhibiting at least one of the seven deadly sins. His tattoos come with painful, sometimes fatal, life lessons.

Nathan's naughty customers aren't the only people dying in Austin, though. There is a serial killer who, after stabbing his victims, leaves a distinctive imprint on their bodies. The same killer was evidently at work seven years ago. The killings quit for seven years, then started as if they'd never stopped. The killer is now dubbed the Grim Sleeper and those two words strike terror into Faye's heart when she thinks she's met him. And that he's stalking her.

The plot dives deep and leads the reader along a tangled path. It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad, and some are both. The Lord does make a few appearances, but not as you'd expect. I'll bet you'll have fun with this tale of passion, sin, and redemption. An entertaining read!

This book, published by Lyrical Press, Inc.,  is available for Kindle e-readers at Other formats at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Elance--Making Money as a Writer

Okay, I'm cheating this week. I've got a lot on my plate as I get ready to go back to school next week. With that in mind, I'm going to repost an old blog topic of mine that got lots of responses and one that I think is still important: Making Money as A Writer!

So is it me or does the economy really suck with a capital S right now? My real job is as a writer, but the job  paying the bills (at least for the moment) is that of a teacher. Unfortunately, I live in an area where teachers are getting the axe due to our state's budget and the ginormous amount of debt we are all under.

Now don't start to fret. I'm not going to turn this into a political commentary. At least not today.

What I am going to talk about are job possibilities for the writer trying to keep their head above water in these tough times! Most of us aren't making any money. We sit at our computers and sweat over whatever imaginative gem we're currently working on because we love the muse. We love the act of creation. We love, love, love to write. I mean, you have to love something to keep doing it even though there's no money!

A few posts ago, I talked about being a ghost writer. It's a surprisingly lucrative job. Being a ghost writer doesn't mean you have to be writing a novel for someone either. It could be as simple as writing some one's blog post, allowing them to take the credit, and getting paid for it. If this is something that interests you, check out Elance.

Elance is a place where people in need of writers go to find them. They post jobs in categories from web design to blog articles to resume writing. As a writer, you go there to help these people out and earn a little extra money on the side. Typically, every job posted lists a time frame for completion of the job and what the client is willing to pay.

If you  work from home, are a fast typer, and have a lot to say, check Elance out. It's easy to get set up with them, too! Once you've filled out the basic information and listed your skills, just peruse through their job listings until you find one that meets your time frame and capabilities. The next step is to bid for the job and state how much you want to get paid to do it.  The client will either invite you to take the job or not.

I've been working with Elance for a few months now with success. Sometimes there is lots of competition for particular projects, and other times, you'd be surprised at the things people pass up. The beauty of it is that if a job doesn't tickle your fancy, you are not obligated to accept it.

Of course, writers never get paid what they're really worth. Sometimes the clients obviously have no clue how much time it takes to write something awesome, and they don't want to pay that much. Only apply for jobs that fit what your time is worth. In the beginning, you may want to do a few jobs without great pay just to get your foot in the door, but ultimately, you need to stick to your guns and charge what your time is worth.

If you are looking into life as a freelancer, Elance is a good place to get your feet wet and see what's out there.

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 8, 2011

What I'd like to be doing

Today, on this blog, I've LOVE to be reviewing NEPHILIM. I've bought it for my e-reader, but it's not read yet. (Along with at least a dozen other books.)

This week I'd like to be writing at least 2 chapters on the book that's in progress (or not). I doubt that will happen. I'm hoping for a few pages.

This month I'd like to be replotting and restarting a favorite of mine that hasn't been sold. Want to take bets on me doing that?

In general, every week I'd like to read 7 books, write 3 novel chapters and 3 short stories, submit short stories to five places, send out promotional material for the novel that's out, comment on every blog I follow, turn in book reviews to the magazine more promptly than I have been, post better blogs post than this on All Things Writing, and sell a thousand copies of CHOKE.

What's my problem? TIME! I need more, much more.  

I hope I can get NEPHILIM read by next week. If I do, you'll see a review here!

(Have you noticed the book covers to the right?) 

Picture: Clock dial of the French Revolution
In the public domain because the copyright has expired

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

5 Beginning Steps to Putting Together an Anthology

I love to read anthologies, especially if the anthology is a collection of works by different writers. I've just started reading the delightful Guppy Anthology called Fish Tales. If you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of these 22 tales of murder and mystery by the rising stars of mystery, then you should get on that today! Here's a link. Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.

The gang at All Things Writing has been working on an anthology of its own. Kaye, Steve, and myself are all into very different styles of writing, yet we all agree that a dark story intrigues us every time. With that in mind, we are creating a collection called All Things Dark and Dastardly. This fun little book will hold tales of mystery, horror, and other things that go bump in the night. Or in your soup can. (Ha! You'll have to read the book to get that little joke!) The book should be available by the end of October, and of course, we'll keep you posted on the book release, giveaways, and other promotional events.

Putting together an anthology with a group of writers is not easy. When you write a novel, it's all on you. When you put together a collection of stories, you have to rely on others. Deadlines, editing--all of that is crucial to getting your work in a coherent form everyone can agree on. If you are considering undertaking this kind of project, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Figure out your theme. This is tricky if you have writers who write in different genres. Come up with a common them and work with that. Otherwise, your stories may feel a little out of whack, something that can turn off a potential reader.

2. Have a word count goal and assign the number of stories each writer will undertake. The count and number of stories may grow or diminish depending on the project, but at least have a starting point.

3. Set deadlines. This is probably one of the more crucial pieces of advice. Deadlines help keep people motivated and provide an end goal. Of course, we're talking about writers. Sometimes life happens, and you have to change deadlines. Be flexible, but do your best to stick to them.

4. Read each other's work. This is a great time to make sure every story fits within the theme and to give constructive criticism. Once all stories have been critiqued, allow for revision time.

5. Hire an editor.  I think this is the most important part of putting together an anthology. Good editing makes your work look polished and professional. An editor will catch all the technical stuff that's been overlooked and can guide you on the order of the stories. We hired the same person that edited Fish Tales, the great and wise Ramona DeFelice Long.

Of course, these are just the beginning stages of putting together an anthology. There are so many other things that go into this process. Have you ever worked on anthology? Share your experience in the comment section.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Zombie Monologues, my two cents

I know Mary Ann reviewed this book here, but I'd like to give my side. I enjoyed the heck out of it!

This book is subtitled, "Finally, the other side of the apocalypse story" and it's a different side, all right. We get to talk to zombies, see what they're really thinking. Oh, you didn't know they were thinking? See, we couldn't tell that until Dr. Marshall and his two residents, Eve and Zack (yes, Resident Eve--love it!), have perfected a way to electronically capture and translate their brain waves into recognizable speech patterns. Exciting!

We find they're not really mindless at all. They just can't control those zombie bodies and those zombie urges. Ten subjects have been gathered, at great risk, subdued, and wired up for transmission. If only the computers will keep operating well enough. This takes a lot of bandwidth (or something). The subjects are considered to be nine, since two are a married couple, a performing comedy team. They relish the opportunity to do more shtick.  

One of the subjects won't admit to being a zombie, but most of them know exactly what happened. And some are ticked off about it. Their brain waves can only be captured for a limited amount of time, so the team must work quickly to complete their research, then the brain deteriorate to, well, to what you would think a zombie brain should be.

But what is the research for and what are they doing? And are forces working against them? From where? And are the captive zombies capable of, well, plotting something?

I can't reveal much more of the developments without ruining the story for you, so pick up a copy and delve into these minds and adventures.

"The Zombie Monologues" by Dragonfire Press, June 2011