Wednesday, May 30, 2012

3 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated and Consistent With Your Writing

Today we have a great guest blogger, Edwin from Celebutaunt, sharing insights on staying motivated and consistent. As summer approaches, I can't think of a better topic to help us beat the "dog days" and move forward! Thanks for joining us Edwin!

Where do writers find a source of constant motivation? Earning a living is a very good motivator, but honestly this is a shallow well. Things like boredom, personal time, and other interests will inevitably slink in and you'll find yourself justifying these things today in exchange for harder work tomorrow.

Sometimes "tomorrow" happens several days later, which is symptomatic of a lack of motivation. All writers go through periods of writer's block, strings of boring topics, and a desire to focus on other things of interest.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep yourself motivated and constantly writing.

This Is Your Real Job

If you're relatively new to freelance writing and expect to make a living from it, you have to take one very important step. You have to tell yourself this is your fulltime job and then treat it as such. As simple as this sounds, countless freelance writers, or more accurately wannabe freelancers, don't understand this simple fact. As a result they have only moderate—or worse—success to show for their efforts.

Finding success as a writer takes hard work and discipline and that starts with setting up a daily schedule. If you worked at a bank, it's unreasonable to think you can show up at random times, on random days, and expect to have any measure of success. You'd lose your job before your first paycheck arrives, yet this is exactly what so many new freelance writers do.

Creating a daily schedule is actually a motivational step. It changes your writing from "hobby" to "career", which is the kind of significant shift in mindset it takes to treat writing with serious and deliberate intent.  A career as a writer is exciting, ever-changing, and financially rewarding. These things serve as their own forms of motivation, particularly when compared to writing as a hobby. Hobbies come and go, they can be worked on in your spare time, and they're easy to forego when they become tedious or boring.

If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you have not transitioned your mindset from hobby to career.

Vanity Can Be a Positive Thing

Writers like to hear positive feedback about their work. It's a natural human desire, and any writer who says they aren't in it for the praise, at least to some extent, isn't being honest about what motivates them to write.

Seeking feedback from editors and establishing a fan base for your work is a great source of motivation. The feedback will help your sharpen your skills, as well as help you write in the style your clients desire. Professional critique designed to help you master your craft should always be taken as a positive event. After all, no editor is going to waste their time on writers who show no promise. They'll simply cut them loose.

If you're receiving regular constructive criticism from the people soliciting your work, as well as praise for your writing style, grammar skills, and attention to detail in your articles; you're doing something right and it should make you feel good. Use this as motivation to write another great article, and then another, and another. Before you know it you'll be writing great articles because you know you can, and this is one of the most powerful motivations a writer can tap.

Diversity Is Your Friend

Writing about the same things, over and over, will lead to certain boredom, particularly if you can't find new and interesting angles. A very effective way to stay motivated as a freelance writer is to write on a wide range of topics. Not only does this keep your workload fresh and interesting, it forces you to do some research on new topics, which I find very interesting.

In the same vein as using positive feedback as motivation, you'll quickly discover that writing great articles on subjects that are new to you has a domino effect. As a result you'll continually seek new and challenging assignments which will keep you excited about your career as a writer and fresh with new ideas for future articles.

Let your editors and other content seekers know that you're interested in writing on a wide range of topics. This is your career and you're the one in charge of it. Don't expect them to read your mind or to somehow know your goals as a writer. When you let them know, you're telling them you're serious about your career and recognize their role in helping you become successful.

It's Hard Work

Freelance writing is hard work, it doesn't come with a lot of glory, and it requires constant effort on your part to become successful and stay relevant. Most who attempt freelance writing do so for all the wrong reasons. Treating what you do as your career, with a schedule for writing and a desire to constantly improve your skills, will keep you in high demand with editors and content seekers.

Using the tips above will help you stay motivated, will help you tap into creative forces that will result in engaging content, and will foster good writing skills.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on what keeps you motivated to keep going consistently every day?

This guest post is by Edwin who regularly writes about celebrities, TV, and movies for the Celebutaunt blog on USDish.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. What does this mean to you? A day off work? A parade? Speeches? A concert? Visiting a cemetery?

Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday began in 1865 to celebrate the Union soldiers, both black and white, who fought the Civil War. The celebrants, most of them freedmen, held a ceremony in a cemetery on May Day, to commemorate the dead. Flowers were laid on the graves of the soldiers.

Similar events were celebrated in cemeteries in the following years in the North. Michigan was the first to make is a state holiday and other states followed suit.

In the South, a separate tradition evolved, starting with Confederate Memorial Day, which ranged from April to mid-June.

The name was officially changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day in 1971.

When I was a child, in Illinois, my large extended family got together for outdoor eating and a trip to the graveyard to lay flowers on Grandpa's grave, and later on Grandma's.  My mother would gather an armful of her lush peonies and we'd brush off the ants and take them in a vase of water in the car. There were other relatives in the cemetery at Alpha, Illinois, but I hadn't known any of them and didn’t pay much attention. Today my mother and father rest there, as well as some of the other relatives I grew up knowing.

I was married during Viet Nam and spent thirteen months waiting for my new husband to come home. He had, by the luck of the draw, been sent to Korea instead of Nam, so he wasn't in the danger a lot of others were. While he was overseas, I worked civilian for the Army, and also participated in protest marches for that particular war. Sort of covered all the bases. Hey, it was a confusing time. I might not like the war, and I don't like most of them, but I can't hold it against the soldiers. When I see a injured soldier, it makes me angry that anyone ever has to fight in a war, and I wish no one ever had to again, but I know that won't ever happen as long as humans are humans.

For me, today, Memorial Day means remembering all my relatives who have passed away, as well as being a day to honor the soldiers who have fallen defending our country.

picture from wiki commons public domain

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Someone Else, Somewhere Else--Author Q &A with Jenelle Jack Pierre

All Things Writing is a blog geared for writers, and we enjoy chatting with other writers about the process. Today we visit with Jenelle Jack Pierre. I really loved her short story Someone Else, Somewhere Else and was so jealous of the way she was able to make the prose just flow! It's an honor to have her interview for us!

Mary Ann: I notice you have a MA from the writing program at John Hopkins University. Tell us a little more about your writing background.

I studied Communications as an undergrad and wrote two YA novels during that time.  In graduate school, I began writing short stories, including Someone Else, Somewhere Else.

Short stories versus the novel? I know you've written before so which do you prefer?

 I think they’re both interesting genres.  I won’t say I prefer one over the other.  A novel is for when you want to dive into another world you’re creating and you have time to do this because of length.  When I’m writing a short story, I have to add depth to the narrative faster because of the shorter length.

Someone Else, Somewhere Else is full of such rich prose, and you really bring your characters to life. Was this story based on true events?

 The only true aspect is that one of my friends had a mean stepmother.  The setting, characters, situation, etc are all make-believe.

I like the way you handle Henry and his deception about the rabbit. Many times authors will go overboard trying to be subtle about that kind of character development and it ends up not being subtle at all! With that in mind, how much time you spend in the editing process for short stories?

 Short stories can take a lot of time to edit.  I edited this story at least four times.  Editing a short story can take awhile because I want to build a believable world and show the characters grow in some significant way. 

Are you solely a YA writer or do you work in other genres as well?

  I write YA and contemporary short stories.

Tell us about your next project and the book we are giving away today!

Thanks for asking, my next project is called “Love’s Onlookers.” It’s a collection of short stories.    Someone Else, Somewhere Else will be included. Three of the stories will have a young protagonist. 

Someone Else, Somewhere Else is available to your readers, who can currently download it for free at eretailers, including Amazon.  One winner will get a copy of my YA novel, “Before I Breathe.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I really enjoyed your story and look forward to reading more of your work!

Here's my review of the short story, Someone Else, Somewhere Else.

First of all, I love that this author, Jenelle Jack Pierre, is marketing her short story! It's just another example of how authors need to think outside the box when it comes to selling and promoting their work.  And this is a tale worth promoting!

Someone Else, Somewhere Else is told from the pov of twin girls who talk about their experience living next door to a family with a less than idyllic home life. The twin's mother recently remarried a man that everyone likes and who strives to take care of his new family. The people next door also have a blended family, but unfortunately, the stepmother tends to favor her own kids over her stepdaughter, Ariya. It's a distinction that everyone seems to notice, but no one wants to bring up. Of course, things change when Ariya takes a stand and pays the consequences for her actions.

It's hard not to give away the whole story since it is so short, but I will say that Pierre manages to present a slice of life. Set on an island that feels very small town and homey, her characters are believable and easy to relate to. I'd venture to say that we've all seen a girl like Ariya at some point in our lives. I think the tension between the stepmother and Ariya was just right, leaving the reader feeling their emotions, but not going overboard with it so that it turned into a cliché. I was a bit confused as to when they story was taking place. At times it felt like it was set in the past, but the Xbox references made it feel more current. There is also a moment where the daughter is hanging laundry on the clothes line and I couldn't help but think, "Okay, you can afford the Xbox, but not a cheap indoor washer and dryer?" Then again, I guess that shows where my priorities are when it comes to the laundry!

All in all, this was a fast paced read with great characters. Check it out by clicking on the link and register for the giveway of Before I Breathe 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Q & A with Travis McBee, Author of the YA Science Ficition Novel, Bridgeworld

Mary Ann: Hi, Travis! Thanks for joining us on All Things Writing today.
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you work the most in?

Travis: I’m twenty-two and I’ve been writing seriously for about two years now. I don’t really pick genres, either when I’m reading or writing. I get ideas that come to me and I start writing them. I don’t really ever stop to consider what genre it is until I’m done and I need to classify it so that I can query it. It’s the same way when I pick up books to read, I just look for a good story. I guess I’m weird that way.

Your novel, Bridgeworld, is YA Science Fiction. How did you come up with this storyline?

The inspiration came from a book I had read years before called “The Dark Side of Nowhere” The book was about a small town whose residents were actually aliens who had crash landed there decades before and raised kids who they disguised and raised as humans. I was thinking about the book when I wondered what it would be like if one of the kids was forced to reintegrate into his parents’ old society.

Who is your publisher? How did you make that connection with them?

My publisher is Hydra Publications. I found their listing on durotrope and sent them a query—along with a dozen or so other houses. I got interest from several different houses, but Hydra was extremely straightforward with me and seemed to be genuinely excited about the possibilities “Bridgeworld” presented. I went with my gut on it and chose them. I couldn’t be happier.

What's your take on getting an agent? Do you currently have one?

It’s difficult. I got rejected about fifty times before I decided to just go the small press route. I’ve been offered representation since I’ve first been published, but the agents who have offered it have poor track records—most of their clients are only signed with small presses so they wouldn’t be able to offer me anything other than taking a share of my royalties as I see it. I still query some legitimate agents with most of my projects, but I’m in no hurry to sign with just anyone.

What do you think the best promotional tool is for an author? Is it easier or harder to promote science fiction to young adults?

I think the best tool is just getting out in your community. I’ve gotten more fans and readers from doing book signings and going to conventions than from anything else. It’s great to actually meet the people who like your work and talk to them as well.

What's next for you and where can our readers learn about you and/or purchase Bridgeworld?

Well writing is still just a hobby for me, but I would love for it to become a career. I’ve  sold four novels since publishing “Bridgeworld” so it’s definitely something I love. You can find out anything you want to know about me at and  you can buy a copy at

Thanks for having me on!

Here's an excerpt from Bridgeworld by Travis McBee! Enjoy!

Will’s birthday had always been an eventful day. The town would break into a large scale celebration with hotdogs grilling in every backyard and bands marching up and down main street in a massive parade. When the sun fell the occasion would be punctuated with the rolling thunder of fireworks which lit up the sky in fluorescent flowers of brilliance. Yes Pleasant Valley did enjoy Will’s birthday, because it also happened to be the Fourth of July.

“…Happy birthday to you!” the chorus of voices finished. Will took a breath and held it for a second as he made his private wish and then with a sudden burst of wind he released the breath upon the fifteen candles that were staggered about the cake causing the little flames to flicker and disappear on each one.

“What did you wish for Will?” his mother asked from the other end of the dining room table. She asked that same question every year.

“Can’t tell you that,” Will replied as he always did when his mother asked but smiled none the less.

“Stop pitter pattering around and cut the cake Will,” His father chuckled from his mother’s side, his eyes yearning for the chocolate cake with the still smoking candles.

Will grabbed the knife and slid it through the cake in clean, neat, strokes and ladled four pieces of the sticky chocolate cake onto four milky white plates that his mom saved for special occasions. He slid the plates around the table and only the etiquette of birthday boy first kept the cake from being torn apart by his apparently ravenous father. Abby flashed a smile of gratitude when he slid her a piece and looked at it closely. Will picked up his fork and dipped a piece of the spongy cake into his mouth. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sweet ecstasy sweeping across his tongue in moist waves of delight.

The entire table followed suit with Abby and Mr. Haynes digging in with the most fervor. Abby had developed a taste for Earth food and had yet to find something she didn’t like.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Organized? Who, Me?

As you can see by this picture of my working area, I'm not a neatnik. Clutter doesn't bother me like it does some people. In fact, I can't work in a pristine environment. I have no idea what that says about me, but I just know it's true.

I'm a collector. We're moving in a few weeks and I've decided it's time to pare down a little. For years I've been asking my kids to tell me what they want when I'm gone. I guess they don't want to think about that and they've steadfastly refused to give me instructions, preferences, or even hints.

We're talking about the Hummels that my mother-in-law gave me, the Christmas plates my good friends and former employers sent me for ten years, my pewter collection, the crystal my mother bought on a trip to Venice, and other treasures.

The impending move threatens to cost us more than we'll be reimbursed. For years our moves were corporate, and fully funded. This one is not. So I'm giving more thought to exactly what I want to move.

I broke down and took some pictures so I could post some of my things on Craigslist. However, I first sent the photos to the kids to see if they wanted any of the "stuff". Guess what? It all went to good homes. The kids decided to claim it all, rather than let it go outside the family. I have the best kids in the world! I guess I don't have to die to get my things dispersed, after all.

I've even gotten rid of a few books. Not enough, by my husband's standards, but I can't let go of my books! Now if I could just figure out how to move my office stacks intact.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Covenant by CD Harper

As part of Innovative Online Book Tours, we are featuring CD Harper, a historical fiction writer with a long career as a writer. He also has a background in theatre which warms my soul! Learn more about this unique writer and read an excerpt from Covenant!

Author, CD Harper is pleased to announce his book, Covenant. This work is a historical fiction novel set during slavery and the Civil War and looks at the relationship of the slave master and his slave love. The story also delves into the impact of slavery, the war and the human impulse to love on lives of everyone on Covenant Plantation.  Covenant is told from the perspective of a slave. 

The Civil War provides a smoky background for this debut novel that delves into the uncomfortable friction that exists between the waning power of the Southern plantation culture and the emerging identities that lie beneath. The naive Seth Hunter Jr., whose existence has been mapped out for him by domineering patriarchs, finds himself forced to confront his life as pressures from the past and future force him from his pedestal. The divine nature of the American ideal of Manifest Destiny led earlier generations of Hunters from humble Northern beginnings to a precipice of Southern power embodied in Covenant Plantation, Seth Jr.'s inheritance. As the Civil War unseats the stability of the South, Seth's own life unravels. The estate, the lifestyle and the woman he was given all become harder to hang on to as he struggles to fulfill his destiny.

Enjoy these two excerpts from Covenant:

Seth Junior at his father's death bed...

He strained to hear Seth Senior. His daddy's voice once had boomed with presence and authority. That's the voice he wanted to hear and imitate, and the wisdom, strength and will power he needed.

"I ain't never had to think about nothing like that before, Daddy."

"Why not? Did I make it so easy? Was I so sure that Providence would always be there? Was I? My daddy, he never worried about me. He knew I was ready! Don't you mess with His stuff, you hear me, Seth Junior? Huh?" The old man's breath smelled of age, an indescribably dry odor, one that Seth Junior knew he would never smell again.

There was a long pause before he spoke again, opening and closing his eyes at a slow and deliberate rate breathing deeply, his chest heaving with each effort.  " You have to carry on stand in my place." 

Seth Junior breaks the news to Sandy...

Her response was so sudden, so quick that it startled both horses. Her horse bolted like a runaway, leaving Seth Junior standing in shock, trying to control his horse and holding the side of his face where Sandy had struck him with her riding crop. It took only a moment before he reined in his horse and felt the pain. Only then did he realize that in that brief moment, she had disappeared.

His first thought was to go after her, but her horse was as fast as his, perhaps faster. In an instant, he realized that maybe this was the best solution, her running off, and his allowing her to run off. Yet at the same moment came the realization that he couldn't bear the thought of being without her. If she left the plantation, his land, she would be just another nigger slave gal, beautiful and desirable and available. He gasped when he felt the words in his mind: another nigger slave gal. He had never thought of her in that way, and it disturbed him that he could with such ease.

Author Bio:
Dr. Clifford D. Harper is a respected theatrical executive producer and playwright. His written works include Curse and Neva's Tale. Neva's Tale was produced by Theresa Larkin, directed by Ted Lange, and earned actor Larry Gammell Jr. an NAACP Award and another from L.A. Weekly in 1993 for his supporting role.

A retired Professor of Theatre Arts and Dance at California State University, Los Angeles, Clif served as the Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts where he established the "Theatre of the Twenty-First Century" and revived the Dance Kaleidoscope program in the LA community. During his tenure, he became the founding Executive Director of the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex, where he developed the world-renowned Luckman Jazz Orchestra. Dr. Harper's commitment to the arts was instrumental in facilitating the art retrospective: "African American Artists in Los Angeles, A Survey, Exhibition, 1945-2003."

 Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Clif taught for a year at Sangamon State University before moving on to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he served as Chair of the Black Studies Program and Dean of General Academic Programs. Dr. Harper received an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, a Master's in Theatre and Speech and became one of the first African Americans to earn a PhD. in English from St. Louis University

 Born and raised in a segregated neighborhood of East St. Louis, Illinois, Dr. Harper graduated and later returned to teach at his high school alma mater, Lincoln High. Dr. Harper found this experience to be significant and rewarding. During this time, he discovered his passion for theater and found inspiration in his students, many of whom went on to have gratifying careers.

Dr. Harper's many accomplishments have included: working with the renowned Katherine Dunham, receiving a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Award, earning one of the earliest Certificates in Black Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and starting a "Forgivable Loan" program for female PhD's at CSULA.

Clif and his lovely wife, Linda, have migrated north to the Oregon Coast, settling in the charming town of Gleneden Beach. Clif continues to write and is working on his next novel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Successful Publishing

I read an article this week that is getting a lot of play in the writers' groups I belong to. I'd like to discuss some of the points. First of all, the article is here ( It's by Mark Coker, who is the force behind Smashwords. Smashwords is the online ebook publisher most authors turn to first when they're self-publishing. If you follow the detailed formatting guide, it's not too difficult to make yourself an ebook from your manuscript. The processor takes your Word file as input and produces multiple files in formats, such as mobi for Kindle, epub for most other ereaders, pdf, html, etc.

So, that's who Mark Coker is and what his product is. I was amazed to learn that Smashwords is only 4 years old! He comes from a public relations background, so knows how to sell his product. Not that the author pays anything up front. One thing I'll commend him for, okay, one among many, is his refusal to go public. He's afraid a stockholder or venture capitalist might want to charge writers for using Smashwords. Of course, they take a cut of the published book, but much less of a cut than a traditional publisher takes.

Here's the nugget that's getting discussed. He says, " The biggest challenge faced by self-published authors, it’s not marketing, it’s not discoverability, it’s adopting the best practices of the very best publishers. It’s about becoming a professional publisher."

What does he mean by that? What IS a professional publisher?

He also says, "I imagine a book is an object and attached to the object you have dials and levers and things you can tweak and turn and twist, things that can increase the availability, discoverability, accessibility, enjoyability to readers."

His first dial is price. How do you know when you've hit the right price, though? Set it too high and it won't sell, for obvious reasons. Set it too low and you devalue your product. Or do you?

The second is the cover. It should give the browsing potential reader an idea of what's inside. Mary Ann has mentioned this several times. A misleading cover can indicate the wrong genre and will disappoint the readers who buy expecting a different type of story.

The book description sounds obvious. It's hard, though, to distill your year (or more) of labor into a few sentences. You gotta do it though.

What else can the indie writer do to increase chances of success and to make books visible? I guess if anyone knew that, he or she would be outselling all of us. And probably wouldn't share the secrets here. I'm happy, but not ecstatic with my sales, so would love to hear ideas!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rotter World--A review of Scott M. Baker's Latest Novel

Happy Mother's Day! Nothing says love like the gift of Zombies! Be sure to enter our giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment and you'll be entered!

Rotter World…the title already conjures some strong images. The book contains some even stronger ones. Of course, that's to be expected in a tale about zombies, vampires, and the military. Now before you go thinking that this is another 28 Days, Resident Evil, or Walking Dead rip off, let me just set you straight. Sure, it has some of the same qualities, but I found that this book by Scott M. Baker managed to take on a life of its own and be a really interesting, if graphic, story about mankind's survival after a zombie apocalypse.

So let's get to it! Here is the synopsis from the book:

Eight months ago vampires released the Revenant Virus on humanity. Both species were nearly wiped out.

For Mike Robson, the situation could be far worse. He joined up with a small band of humans and the last coven of vampires who are riding out the zombie apocalypse in an old fort along the coast of southern Maine.

The group's uneasy alliance is strained by the arrival of the creator of the Revenant Virus. He claims there is a vaccine that will make them immune to the virus, but it's located in a secure underground facility five hundred miles away.

To retrieve the vaccine, Robson leads a raiding party of humans and vampires down the devastated East Coast. Yet none of the horrors Robson has faced match what awaits in the underground facility.

Yeah, I'm gonna agree. What waited in the facility was pretty bad and one of the reasons I love the cover of this book. It captures a moment that was riveting in the novel!

I think Mr. Baker did a great job of creating sympathetic characters that have gone through a lot. Robson, the protagonist, is especially well done. He's the everyman who's been beaten down my guilt over an incident that was really beyond his control. The camp relies on him, as does, Natalie who falls for him. Their relationship is sweet to watch and I found myself worried about what would happen to them in the end. By the way, Mr. Baker, great sex scene!

I like the vampire element in this book, too. The vamps are the bad guys who realize they've made a big mistake in releasing the zombie virus. It practically wipes out their entire race and causes them to join forces with the humans. Of course, not everyone is on board with this kind of alliance which just adds tension to the plot. O'Bannon is an awesome bad guy, and as a reader, you can't help but root for the zombies and hope they get him in the end.

My only complaint is that I wanted more. I got plenty, but I wanted to know what happened next. Did they get back to camp? Did everyone get vaccinated? Sequel, please!

If you can't tell, I highly recommend Rotter World by Scott M. Baker. Keep in mind it does contain some graphic violence and is not for the faint of heart! Pregnant women should consider reading it only if they want to give birth early. People with heart problems should probably take their pills first.

This is the Amazon buy link: ROTTER WORLD
 or if you are a Barnes and Noble Fan click here: ROTTER WORLD

Here is the author bio info!

Born and raised in Everett, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston), Scott M. Baker has spent the last twenty-two years living in northern Virginia.  He has authored several short stories, including the e-chapbook “Dead Water” by D’Ink Well Publications; “Rednecks Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” which appeared in the autumn 2008 edition of the e-zine Necrotic Tissue; “Cruise of the Living Dead,” which appeared in Living Dead Press’ Dead Worlds: Volume 3 anthology (August 2009); “Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly,” which appeared in Living Dead Press‘ Christmas Is Dead anthology (October 2009); and “Denizens,” which appeared in Living Dead Press’ The Book of Horror anthology (March 2010). 

Scott’s first zombie novel, Rotter World, which details the struggle between humans and vampires during a zombie apocalypse, was released by Permuted Press in April 2012.  He has also authored The Vampire Hunters trilogy, which has been published by Pill Hill Press and received excellent reviews from Famous Monsters of Filmland and Fangoria, among others. Scott has finished his fifth novel, Yeitso, a homage to the monster movies of the 1950s set in northern New Mexico, which is currently with a publisher, and has begun his next novel, Hell Gates, the first in a series of young adult novels set in a world in which the realms of Hell and earth have merged. 

When he is not busy writing, Scott can either be found relaxing on his back deck with a good cigar and a cup of iced coffee, or doting on the four house rabbits that live with him.

Please visit the author’s website at http:\\

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What's Coming Up At All Things Writing?

I don't really look like this...much.
Today I'm the guest blogger at Romancing the Darkside, and I'm talking about how a book cover can make or break a book. Slide over there and check it out if you get a chance! ROMANCING THE DARKSIDE.

I always look forward to this time of year. I'm a teacher and summer is coming. Do I really need to provide you with a further explanation of why I'm singing a happy tune? I love the little children I teach. Really. But sometimes they make me crazy!

For me, summer means devoting more time to reading and writing. I have a new YA coming out June 1 called Bayou Myth which I'll chat more about in the upcoming weeks. However, we also have a very full calendar for May and June when it comes to guest bloggers, interviews, and book tour reviews. My summer is jammed pack already with a great reading list that I can't wait to get to.

As many of you know, we are already a tour host for the nice folks at Innovative Online Book Tours. Because they do such a great job, I know they are incredibly busy. I've been getting some amazing tour requests in all genres. In addition to that, we also have been contacted by Hydra Publications to work with some of their authors on interviews and reviews.

So here's what's coming up:


Sorry, I didn't mean to shout.

Actually, we've got zombies, literary fiction, historical fiction, sci/fi fantasy, mystery, more zombies, and several YA books all about to be interviewed, reviewed, or given away. Be sure to drop by in the next few weeks for some fun!

By the way, I have to now do a shameless plug for myself. I'm hosting a giveaway at my blog, Loesch's Muse, right now for my young adult novel, Bayou Myth. You can win it before you can buy it if you provide me with your favorite Cajun recipe. After all, that's the flavor of the story--spicy, not too sweet, with a dash of voodoo mixed in for good measure! Click here to enter: LOESCH'S MUSE

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review--Better Off Dead by Danielle Blanchard

Better Off Dead

Book 2 in The Vamp Saga

I can never decide about vampire books--what do I really want out of my vamps? Should they be old school, traditional bloodsuckers that fear the sunlight or should they have evolved and found new ways to break out of the Dracula paradigm. It tends to be a fine line for me. Better Off Dead, book 2 in the The Vamp Saga by Danielle Blanchard takes the vampire mythos into new territory, causing the reader to ponder a whole new kind of bloodsucker.

Here is the synopsis straight from the book:

Welcome to Western Europe in 2020. The International Vampire Council are in the middle of intense negotiations with the Global Six when a mysterious plot is revealed to end Manon's life and thinly veiled lies Mikkel has told his wife will be exposed once and for all. Manon is sent into hiding with Emmerik as her protector while a deal can be negotiated to spare her life. As the clock ticks toward a catastrophic outbreak of new virus which seeks to destroy not only the Lycan population but millions of humans along with it, two ancient vampires return prematurely from their time in the ground, and their mood is less than receptive. What will happen? Who will live? Who will face betrayal? Who will die? Sometimes, the most devastating secrets are better off dead and buried. This novel is not YA friendly, contains plenty of snark, supernatural creatures included, but not limited to, vampires and Lycans, not to mention a few choice scenes of sex and death. It is not for the faint of heart.

At times it felt like I was reading an episode from that 80's TV show, Dynasty. So much drama! So much back stabbing! So much confusion! If Joan Collins had popped up as one of the undead, I would have been in nostalgia heaven. This is certainly the best dressed cast of vamps I've ever heard of, too. Each of them could be a contender during Fashion Week in their Yves St. Lauren outfits!

Blanchard has created a rich and complex vision full of lush prose and interesting new ideas about vampires. I really like the virus idea and thought she gave it a new twist since the vamps intentions are to wipe out other supernatural beings. However, I found it hard to navigate through Blanchard's world even with the help of her character appendix. While the characters are interesting and certainly appealing to the reader, at times it was difficult to keep the names of the vamps and their various genealogies straight. Unfortunately, that presents a problem as so much of the plot relies on the reader understanding the past relationships these vampires have had and how their prior actions continue to affect the dealings of the present.

I also felt that the main character, Manon, was difficult to root for. She's married to Mikkel, a sexy vamp with a secret agenda, but sleeping with his son, Emmerik who despises his father.  She claims to love both and can't make up her mind which one her destiny lies with. Sometimes her debates with herself about whether or not she was doing the right thing slowed down the story, and that's too bad.  If you don't relate or feel empathy for your heroine, it's hard to stay interested.  Personally, I would have picked the son, Emmerik.

Perhaps part of my problem with this book is that it is book 2. Not having read book 1, I really felt like I'd missed a great deal of the action. A strong sequel should have enough info in it for the reader to understand what has occurred prior and still feel like they are seeing a new story. I never really got there with this book.

I gotta say though that I loved some of Manon's thoughts. Here's my favorite: "I surely didn't want my blood tears to make me look like I had been bitch slapped with tampons by a gang of menstruating women."

Now that's just funny stuff!

Overall, I think if you've read book one in this series, Death Wish, you'll have an easy time with Better Off Dead. I think this author has much to offer and I'd like to read more of her work!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review and Interview with Nadja Notariani, author of The Third Fate

Today we welcome author Nadja Notariani, author of The Third Fate. I got the chance to interview Nadja and found her to be a charming gal with a great imagination! Read on to learn more about her and to read my review of her novel, The Third Fate. By the way, we are also doing a giveaway for her book, too. Be sure to leave a comment in order to be eligible!

Mary Ann: Thanks for chatting with us! I really enjoyed your book, The Third Fate.

Nadja: Thank you for having me today at All Things Writing!  I'm so glad to be here.

Your book, The Third Fate, takes place in Scotland. Have you ever been there? Do you consider yourself a world traveler?

I have never had the pleasure of visiting Scotland, but if I ever possess the good fortune to earn scads of cash at this writing sister and I have a 'What Happens On The Isles, Stays On The Isles' trip planned.  We plan to finish our grand tour in Scotland. 
As for being a world traveler...Don't I wish it!  World travel is, however, on my list of things to do before I depart this realm. 

Which was your favorite character to write? Why?

Gosh!  I'm not sure I had a favorite.  I liked each character for different reasons.  Cael for being sufficiently tortured yet still open to and craving the love that had always evaded him.  Paige for being so humble and sincere – for her fear at taking that leap.  Malcolm for being so single-minded once he set his course.  Pilar for grabbing hold of her hopes and dreams with both hands.  I got to pull all the things I admire, commend, or even loathe, into the mix of my characters.  Would they have been as fun to write without the tension of playing off one another?  I'm not sure!

I loved that the Fates were children! What prompted you to move out of the traditional view of the Fates and in a different direction?

Sheer chance – or accident, I assure you!  
We (my teen-aged son and his friends, myself, and my husband) were sitting around the kitchen table.  They were chatting it all up and I was working on my character profiles for The Third Fate.  Anyway, I broke into the conversation and asked if I should make the fates like the sirens, like old gnarled witches, or should I make them like...
“You should make them little kids!” one of my son's friends popped off with. 
I immediately agreed with the idea, and it was a settled matter. 
(They've all asked me to tell what my other option was... but I'm saving it for another story.  :)

The Third Fate has several sex scenes in it. Many writers struggle with writing those. How do you approach the sex scene? Are you ever worried about how it will read?

Sex scenes can be troubling to write!  Different characters would have different intimate habits – yet it's the same writer describing them all. 
I tend to write the sex based on the personalities I've crafted for the individual character.  Some people are more intense than others – and I try to carry that over to the bedroom.  I rely on my beta feedback to make sure the sensual scenes read sensually and the hot scenes read with some heat!  Mostly, I approach them with fun in mind.  I'm writing about practically perfect men – what's not to enjoy, right?
We talk a lot about the process of writing at All Things Writing, particularly the process of writing strong dialogue. Is it easy or hard to write great character interaction when your main character has such a strong accent as Cael does? It reminded me a lot of the characters in The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Do you have to work harder to make the dialogue sound natural?

Strong dialogue breathes life into a character.  But there has to be balance, a fitting of words to personality, turn of phrase to the speaker who utters them.  I tend toward very formal sounding speech when I write, and that worked within the framework of The Third Fate's ancient characters.  I have to be careful when writing something contemporary, though.
Cael's accent was a great deal of fun for me.  I've enjoyed Highlander novels for years – and hoped to one day write one.  Suddenly, I thought to myself, 'Why not combine my two loves right now and write a sexy vampire who is also a strapping Scot?'  It was a fun 'Eureka!' moment.  But I had doubts along the way, too.  Changing words as I wrote them to 'sound' Scottish was challenging.  I wanted to capture the 'feel' of a Highlander without stealing reader enjoyment at having to 'decipher' what the heck he was saying.  * I am so taking the comparison to Gabaldon's style of writing accents into her Outlander series characters as a compliment.  You've made my day! 
Thanks for being with us! I look forward to reading more of your work!
Again, I want to thank you for having me over today to talk about my writing process, characters, and The Third Fate.  It's been great! 

Vist me at

The Third Fate Review

So I have to be honest: I'm not a "vampire" girl. I didn't get in to Twilight. I never really saw the point of the Vampire Diaries, and while I like True Blood, in the end I could take it or leave it. When I picked up Nadja Notariani's (try saying that name five times fast!) book, The Third Fate, I wasn't sure if it would be my cup of tea. After all, the male protagonist is…you guessed it…a vampire! However, he's a Scottish vampire with a sexy accent that gives him total bonus points! It was a little like reading a character who could have been in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

 Of course, I would never let such a thing sway my opinion on a book though…at least, not much! So when I tell you that I really enjoyed the tale of The Third Fate, even with the vampire element, you know I mean it.

 Here's the low down on the story as printed on the book:

 Cautious and quiet by nature, Paige Kinnell watches life unfold from the sidelines, maintaining her simple existence as a shield to hide behind. But underneath her shy, careful ways, Paige senses a disconnect with the world around her, indulging instead her ever curious interest in the legend and lore of time nearly forgotten.

One chance encounter with an ancient of the undead begins an unraveling of reality as Paige knows it, leaving her to sort through dreams and enchantments, discovering along the way that one's Fate can be mere illusion, and that the consequences of opening her heart to another may cost dearly.

Cael Maccinnis, the handsome Highlander she's met, seems the answer to every unspoken longing of her heart, even as he awakens dark, secret desires buried within her soul. As strange and unnerving changes begin occurring in her mind and body, Paige has no choice but to face her life's unnatural turn and confront the frightening implications. For within Paige's past a secret lay dormant, hidden even from her. This truth, guarded well and wielded by the Fates themselves, becomes the catalyst invoking the power of The Third Fate.

 Nice, huh?

 I found this book to be a fast read with lyrical prose and vivid descriptions of its hero/heroine. Paige and Cael are definitely well developed characters who evolve and change as the story progresses.  In a book with paranormal elements that evolution is probably one of the most important things an author can do to keep the story moving forward. Unlike some novels where the two lovers never really learn anything about themselves, Notariani does a good job of avoiding this trap and investing the reader's interest in their fates.

 In case you haven't figured this out from the above interview questions, The Third Fate has some sex scenes in it that are fairly explicit. If this is not your thing, you either want to skip over those parts or skip this read. Sex scenes aren't the easiest thing to write, and it's hard to make the characters not sound cheesy or stilted when writing sex scene dialogue. However, the author manages to make everything sound natural and I didn’t flinch at anything.   

 My only criticism would be that I wanted to know more about a few of the villains in the book, especially Gwendolyn. She is a character with lots of "bad guy" potential that could have been explored a bit further. Like I said, this is a fast read. A few more action scenes with Gwendolyn would have kept the reader on their toes and rooting for Paige and Cael even more.

 Best part of this book: The Fates that control everyone's world are not your typical three sisters we see so often in mythology or other stories. They are kids! Makes total sense to me as I sometimes think that it has to be a child doling out the craziness in my life!

 Be sure and check out Nadja Notariani's book, The Third Fate. You can purchase your own copy at the following link: