Monday, November 22, 2010

Great Stories from a Bram Stoker Nominated Author

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, in the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with his wife, Lisa, a couple of pygmy tigers, and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic - not so much. Feel free to visit his online home and follow him on Twitter.

Today, we're checking out the latest and greatest collection of his short stories 'Fungus of the Heart'.

Heather: Hello Jeremy, thank you for doing this interview with me. It’s such an honor to host you on my blog! Let’s start off with your basic question: What made you start writing?

Jeremy: Thank you for the interview! When I was 13, I just remember thinking, “I like books. I should write one.” And so I did, and I’ve been writing about a book a year ever since. I have to thank my parents for instilling in me a love for storytelling. They read to me all the time.

Heather: What does your writing schedule look like?

Jeremy: I try to write at least a couple hours every day. I usually write in the evening, when the attic clowns are napping. That way, they won’t interrupt me by throwing moldy pies at me face or squirting rubber chicken tears at me using their fake flowers.

Heather: Which short story in Fungus of the Heart was the easiest for you to write?

Jeremy: “Boy in the Cabinet” was probably easier, because I was already so familiar with that character. My family often plays a game where we make up little stories and share them with each other. My stories almost always feature the Boy in the Cabinet, as well as a character called That Old Meatball. Perhaps I’ll write a tale about That Old Meatball next.

Heather: Which character in Fungus of the Heart is your favorite and why?

Jeremy: I’m quite fond of Soapy from “Monkey Boy and the Monsters.” I’m a big fan of anthropomorphic bars of soap in general, and Soapy is particularly cute with his appetite for carnage and his deep thoughts.

Heather: Do you have any works that will be sprouting in the future?

Jeremy: I’m writing a middle grade fantasy novel as well as a new horror story collection. I’m also constructing a yard gnome-style hut made entirely out of sporks and spambled eggs.

Heather: Any advice for those aspiring writers?

Jeremy: Eat copious amounts of peanut butter. If you’re allergic to peanut butter, almond butter will work. If you’re allergic to peanut and almond butter, magic beans will do the trick. Also, read and write every day. Don’t let rejections get you down. Follow submission guidelines.

Heather: What is a source of inspiration for you?

Jeremy: Horrible things that happen in the world. Beautiful things that happen in the world. My family, my friends, strangers, ghosts, monsters.

Heather: Who is/are your favorite writer/s?

Jeremy: I love Haruki Murakami, Lois Lowry, Amy Tan, Arundhati Roy, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Heather: Anything else you want to add?

Jeremy: Here are some free stories:

And here’s a big salamander:

Heather: Thank you again for letting me host you on my blog, Jeremy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I think it would be awesome if they made a Sibling's Day where siblings celebrate their siblings.

There are just way too many siblings out there fighting with each other over what ever reasons and if you think about it, there really isn't anything bringing the siblings together after they move away from home.

Like Mother's Day and Father's Day, it's a reason to celebrate that special connection - and if nothing else, it's a reason to call each other and get reconnected. The same with Grandparent's Day.

In this day and age, it's so easy to lose touch with the people you're not around everyday. And there's so many ways to stay in touch too. A holiday is like a yearly reminder.

Yep. It's my midnight rantings!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All Ready To Go?

Here's a great post for all of those participating in NaNoWriMo ( ) this year, for those who all ready have finished a novel, or will finish one soon. The all-important question that no one can seem to answer without difficulty - what to do with that novel after it's written, revised and ready to go.

Pretty much, when it comes to publishing there are three different kinds of publishing. Traditional, Self-publishing, and Vanity Presses. You have to decide what's best for your book, but I'll break down each type of publishing for you, so you can better understand what these are all about.

          Traditional - This is the kind of publisher you all probably have heard about. You send them your work, they look it over, and if they think the material will do well in the current market, and the editing is up to par, then they will accept it, and publish it.

They'll take care of hiring editors, layout designers, and artists for your book. There is still editing to do even after you submit your work though, and you'll have to work on the editing with one of their editors even after it's accepted - but that doesn't mean not to edit your work before you send it in, if there are too many errors, they'll reject your work anyways. You still have to do most of the marketing and promotion for your book, with any route you go. Traditional Publishing is free, these types of publishers take a chance on you and your book hoping it'll do well in the market. The only thing you might have to pay for is books - providing they aren't eBooks.

          Self-Publishing - This is where you are in complete control of your work. You do everything - editing, layout, cover design, illustrations, proofreading, marketing, and promotion - or hire someone to do it for you. If you do your research, this can be quite rewarding and a great opportunity. But it can be overwhelming if you've never been through the publishing process before. There is some money involved in this one depending on if you do all of the work yourself. You'll also foot the bill for all of the books you buy as well, since in self-publishing you are the publisher - but at the same token, you get keep all of your revenue.

          Vanity Press - I have never been through a Vanity Press before, but my work has been accepted at one. They are pretty much the same as a Traditional Publisher, but the author piches in for the funds to get the book published. Which is why some people say Vanity Presses are a rip-off.

Examples of the different kinds of publishers are listed below:

Traditional - Wild Child Publishing, Wild Rose Press, 4RV Publishing
Self-Publishing - CreateSpace, LuLu
Vanity Press - Tate Publishing

Happy publishing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Carolyn Howard-Johnson vists!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
(3rd person from the left)
accepting an award.
          Today, I'm featuring a skilled promotion, editing, and writing guru who makes my skills look like baby-talk. So, let's see a little bit more about what Carolyn does from her mouth. Yep, I'll stop gibbering now.

         As a college freshman, Carolyn Howard-Johnson was the youngest person ever hired as a staff writer for the Salt Lake Tribune--"A Great Pulitzer Prize Winning Newspaper"--where she wrote features for the society page and a column under the name of Debra Paige.
         Later, in New York, she was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine. She also handled accounts for fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert who instituted the first Ten Best Dressed List, where she wrote releases for celebrity designers of the time including Pauline Trigere, Rudy Gernreich and Christian Dior. She was also a consultant for the Oak Park Press in the Chicago area.
         Her nonfiction and humor have been seen in national magazines and her fiction and poetry appear regularly in anthologies and review journals. She has been a columnist for The Pasadena Star News and is now a columnist for Home D├ęcor Buyer, a trade magazine, and and others. She writes movie and theatre reviews for The Glendale News-Press.
         She studied at the University of Utah, graduated from USC and has done postgraduate work in writing at UCLA. She also studied writing at Cambridge University, United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University in Prague.
          The author’s first novel, This Is The Place, and her book of creative nonfiction are award-winners. She also wrote a screenplay, The Killing Ground. Her book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004 and won Book Publicists of southern California's Irwin award.

          The second book in the HowToDoItFrugally series is The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success which also won a USA Book News Best Book nod. It is also the winner of Reader Views Literary Award and a finalist in the New Generation Indie Best Book Awards. Her marketing campaign for that book took top honors for marketing.

         Howard-Johnson’s stories have appeared in anthologies like: Pass/Fail, edited by Rose A. O. Kleidon, PhD; Calliope’s Mousepad in review journals like California State University at Stanislaus's Penumbra and the Mochila Review.

        She was honored as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award by California Legislature members, Carol Liu, Dario Frommer and Jack Scott. She is the recipient of her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance. She was honored by her city's Character and Ethics committee for promoting tolerance with her writing and was named to Pasadena Weekly's list of 14 women of "San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen".

          Born and raised in Utah, Howard-Johnson raised her own family in sunny Southern California.


         Now, here are some links to get to know more about this wonderful person. And if you're a NaNoWriMo participant this year, you might want to grab a copy of her Frugal Editor, so when Nation Novel Editing Month (December) comes around, you'll be ready to edit each and every one of those 50,000 words!

          Sharing with Writers is a blog on all things publishing with an emphasis on book promotion. It was named to Writer's Digest 101 Best Website list.

          The New Book Review is a great way for readers, authors, reviewers and publicists to get more mileage out of a great review. Guidelines for submitting (and recycling) good reviews are in the left column. Scroll down a bit. It's free.

          The Sizzling Book Fair Booths is a blog where participants in in my HowToDoItFrugally cooperative fair booths exchange ideas that make a ho-hum booth into a sizzling success. We keep it open so all authors can learn from our successes and mmmm...challenges.

          This is the Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog. It covers everything that has anything to do with editing from grammar to formatting. The question and answer format encourages you to get the answers you need.


          My creative writing is mostly inspired by the need for tolerance--nay, acceptance--on this planet. War Peace Tolerance also includes resources so that people can--no matter what they think of our wars--support our troops.

Also check out Carolyn's Website where you can see what other kinds of books she has written. She's also on Twitter!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Interview with Nancy Famolari

Come check out Nancy Famolari, she's the author of this mystery novel Murder in Montbleu. If that looks good, you have to check out her other books too, and her websites, and her blogs, and you have to follow her updates!!!


My Space:

But, if you're like me and have dial-up, just stick around here and check out this awesome new interview Nancy did with me:

     Heather: It’s so wonderful to have you on my blog! So the latest from your writer’s den is Murder in Montbleu. Can you tell us a little about where you got the inspiration to write this story?
     Nancy: I love mysteries, so I wanted to write a mystery. This was my first attempt. I chose a small town setting in Northeastern Pennsylvania much like Montbleu because I live in a town like that, and it made location easier to write about. The town has many gracious Victorian houses, but there are a few anomalies. My first idea for the story came from an anomaly, a fieldstone contemporary set among all the Victorians. Then I thought about a wife obsessing about her husband having an affair. She might drive by the house where her rival lived. What if she saw his car race down the driveway? That was the start of the story. Once I had the house it just came to me. Although it made the location easy to write about, I have to say none of my friends and neighbors have quite the exciting life the characters have (at least I don't think so!).

     Heather: How long did it take you to weave this carefully constructed tale?

     Nancy: I wrote Murder in Montbleu in a month during Nanowrimo. I love Nanowrimo. It keeps me focused. However, that's the easy part. Whoever said, writing is rewriting, was absolutely right. It took me about four months and several tries to get the book to where I was happy with it.

     Heather: Was it hard to tie up all the loose ends to such a complex story?

     Nancy: Tying up loose ends is always hard. In mysteries you have to be particularly vigilant. Mystery readers read very carefully because they're looking for clues. Even the last time I went through the manuscript (and I'd been through it at least 20 times), I found details that had to be made just right to keep all threads together.

     Heather: What was your favorite chapter?

     Nancy: My favorite chapter is Chapter Nine. Chess Devon, Deputy Police Chief, interviews Miss Hattie Pershing. Hattie lives across the street from the house in which the murder was committed. She's a busy body, always looking out her front window to see what the neighbors are doing. She's also very old, never married, and talks constantly. I loved writing about Miss Hattie and Chess' frustration with getting her to answer direct questions.

     Heather: For all of those aspiring writers out there, what advice would you give them?

     Nancy: Apply your seat to the chair and learn your craft. Writing is great fun, particularly in the creation stage where you get to meet your characters and work out the plot. However, making the story work takes a lot of rewriting and rethinking. Having been through the process several times, I've gotten very fond of the polishing phase, but, it takes a lot of time sitting at the typewriter and checking facts.

     Heather: Thank you, again, for being my guest on Down to the Core!

     Nancy: Thanks for having me, Heather. You ask very good questions. I had fun answering them.

Look out tomorrow readers,
author Kathy Stemke will be visiting

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Howl in time for Hooooooowwwlloween!

     Fall is certainly in the air! And so is my newest novel Howl, which is still in progess. It's mostly all in the first draft stage still, but I got busy awhile ago and designed the book cover, which I'm super excited to post here.

     So let me know what you think about it. Along with it, I'm posting a short summary and my cute little attackable sentence thing. If you want to read quite a long excerpt you can go to I have quite a few chapters up there so I can get some feedback on it.  Anyways, here it is:

It's not a curse, it's a disease. Hyperglyocious, A.K.A the process of turning into a werewolf; and I'll have that disease forever.

Stolen from home by her newest classmate, Halle Feltcher learns what she believed to be a legend is fact. The worst part is she finds herself caught up in the spin, bitten by a werewolf, and there is nothing she can do to change that. Werewolves and humans collide both searching the same common goal: peace - what they don't know is which side is disturbing the harmony.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Meet Dianne Sagan!

Today on Down to the Core, we have a wonderful guest. She is the dazzling author of Shelter from the Storm and The Fisherman’s Wife.

Dianne Sagan was raised in Texas and is now a full-time ghostwriter and author. Her credits include 35+ editorials for the Amarillo Globe News, a regional newspaper, in addition to short stories and articles published on the internet. Dianne’s works in progress include a flash fiction book with five other women writers, Women’s Bible studies, a series of suspense novels, and Christian fiction. Dianne is working on a line of eBooks. She is active in her church. Her activities there include teaching Women’s Bible studies, teaching Adult Sunday School, and choir. She served as a volunteer for five years with the Sharing Hope Ministry, a prison ministry to incarcerated women. She has also been a Small Group leader. Besides being a full-time writer, Dianne and her husband Greg own a business consulting firm, Sagan & Associates. She is a partner and seminar facilitator. She loves speaking to writer’s groups and women’s groups. Her background includes working in the private sector, small business, academia, non-profits, adult and youth training, and speaking. A member of Panhandle Professional Writers, she can be contacted through her website – Dianne Sagan, Writer –

Heather: Even I must say: very impressive! Let’s start off with the basic question, how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Dianne: I always loved reading and hearing stories. You know how it is - every family has at least one storyteller, and I was the one in my family from the time I was about five. I didn’t really think about being a writer until I was in high school. We had great English teachers at my school, and they taught us how to plan and write essays. I loved that. Later, when I was a young mother, I started writing stories for my children. The first one was a Christmas story about a tree too fat to get through the door of the house.

Heather: I like the sound of that Christmas story. Has your experience in college helped your writing career?

Dianne: I believe it has helped immensely. I have a broad background of American and world history to draw on from my undergraduate work, and I also learned the art of research. That is really valuable to a writer. My Communications degree involved a lot of writing, and my professors encouraged me to write articles and explore other avenues of expression. And as is true with most graduate degrees, I learned a lot about statistics, probabilities, and the scientific method, so when I write I can include a feeling for what constitutes a “likely” event and what doesn’t. The Communications degree I earned also included a lot of behavioral studies, and that gave me important insights into what people really do in real situations.

Heather: That sounds very helpful indeed. So, kids, go to school – lol! When do you usually write?

Dianne: I’m pretty organic. I do a lot of writing in my head before it ever hits the paper. Then it’s almost like filling a pitcher and needing to pour it out. It just flows. I’m learning how to augment that “unstructured” process with loose outlines and overviews, but even those are only working tools and can change with the message and the deadline. When I’m writing fiction, the story and characters almost take on a life of their own. Whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction I like to get all my research done first and then start writing.

I write every day - except Sundays. That’s my day for church and family. My best time for writing is from about 11:00AM to 3:00PM. But I guess I’m a living example of the idea “writers write because they have to.” It seems I always have something going on in my head, either consciously or subconsciously, that demands expression, and sometimes it pops up “paper-ready” at really odd times - like the middle of the night. Fortunately my husband understands!

Heather: Hey, whenever creativity strikes. You never know if it could be the idea that sparked that bestseller, right? So, how about those Op-Ed pieces for the Amarillo Globe-News?

Dianne: I started writing Op-Ed pieces in August of 2001 as a member of a group of six local editorial contributors called The Amarillo Voices. We wrote in a weekly rotation, so my column appeared every sixth Thursday. Two years ago, the paper discontinued that group and asked if I would continue to write as a guest op/ed contributor. I began submitting pieces periodically throughout the year until just recently. I’ve been so busy with other writing projects that I haven’t submitted anything for the past few months – but I sure have ideas to write about!

Heather: That is wonderful; hopefully you’ll be able to start contributing again soon. You’ve recently sold the rights to one of your stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Can you tell us about this experience? Why do you enjoy submitting to anthologies?

Dianne: I’m a visual and tactile learner. When I’m driving down the highway and I see an old, deserted farmhouse in a state of collapse, a story pops into my head. I begin to imagine who might have lived there, what kind of a life they might have had, and what might have happened to them. Another farmhouse, another story. So short stories are a part of life for me. I had several ideas for stories about my children and personal experiences that I was looking for outlets to send them to. A friend of mine in a writing group suggested I think about anthologies. I went on-line and looked for the ones I knew about and Googled for others.

I looked through the prospective titles and deadlines on the Chicken Soup for the Soul website. I made a list of them and put due dates on my writing calendar. I only choose topics about which I know I have experiences that might entertain or help others. I make a list of those story ideas and work on them between projects or as a break from writing books.

The thing I enjoy most about writing for anthologies is that I can feel accomplishment for a shorter piece of work, and that encourages me to keep going on longer projects.

Heather: Very true, anthologies are fun. Now, about your ghostwriting, what kind of genres do you write in? How did all of that come about?

Dianne: A writer-acquaintance of mine who is a member of Panhandle Professional Writers was doing ghostwriting and started getting so much work that she put out a call for freelance editors and ghostwriters. I talked to her about it and decided to give it a try, and I discovered that I not only enjoyed the process but that I also had some talent for it. The books I’m writing at this time are nonfiction “business success and leadership” books concerning issues of human performance, which happens to align neatly with the consulting that my husband and I do. My clients are entrepreneurs, dentists, corporate executives, speakers, men and women in a wide array of professions. I would love to expand into ghostwriting Christian nonfiction.

Heather: That sounds wonderful. So you mentioned that you enjoy attending writer’s conferences, what is your most memorable experience?

Dianne: My most memorable experience was pitching my novel to Rodney Morris, who is now at NavPress. At the time, he was the Senior Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Multnomah Publishing in Sisters, Oregon. (Multnomah is one of the big houses for Christian Fiction.) After my fifteen minute pitch he asked me for a book proposal. I sent it to him, and it made it all the way to the Editorial Committee before it was turned down. I got some good feedback and encouragement from them, though, along with the pleasure of seeing my first novel get so far beyond the “slush pile.”

Heather: That is very neat, thank you for being the guest on my blog today, Dianne, it was a pleasure to get to know more about you.

To find out more about Dianne Sagan and her books check out these awesome links:

Shelter from the Storm trailer -

Shelter from the Storm available through -

Dianne Sagan's blog -

Find Dianne on Author's Den! -

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

60th Blog Post + See What I'm Up to Online

Yep, it's my 60th blog post already! How exciting. I'll have to have a party when I reach 100 blog posts. All of you who have blogs are probably looking at this like "The girl is absolutely batty!" - lol - I'm a bored person, what do you expect?

Anyways, I've been quite busy in my adventures and I've decided to take a bit of time to let everyone know where I am and what I'm doing. First of all, offline, I'm working on a few books, namely Howl and The Cloak of Erason (the second installment in my series of nine).

The Cloak of Erason hasn't been featured online except on which is only in random sentence snippets. So, I'm not going to count that. It probably won't be featured online - sorry.

Howl has already made it's appearance on, it is currently on and, I'll post the direct links to those at the end of this post.

The Jewel of Onsolot - my kinda finished novel, and the first in the Aritifact Series - is my baby and has already be featured online. It is currently being prepared for publication, don't have any information on the release date as of yet.

Alright, I'm going to attempt to not make this too legnthy, so I'll run a quick list of all of the social network sites you can find me on.

FaceBook -!/profile.php?id=1840847747 (you need to friend me to see my profile, mention in the notes you read my blog post so I know you're not a spammer).

Twitter - (this is somewhat my complaint department, but I do post quite amusing things as well. More amusing than complaining).

MySpace -

LinkedIn - I'm on there somewhere, but I'm still a newbie, so I haven't figured out how to post my profile yet. You can search for me on there though.

Howl on InkPop -

I'm not going to post the one on because the formatting is off on that one.

These are all of the ones that I frequent most often, so feel free to friend me, follow me, or review my work. And don't forget to follow my blog if you aren't already. If you don't follow, don't forget to stop back in on the 9th of September, I'll be hosting author Dianne Sagan.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The New Book Covers for the JGDS Series

Elysabeth Eldering, the author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, and I (the new illustrator and cover design artist for the series) have been hard at work with four of her latest books, all to be realeased for sale this year. It's an honor to be a part of this wonderful series. Below are the covers of the books, so you can see what I've been up to these past few months.

Here is the cover for State of Successes, the 4th book in the JGDS series and the next book to be released for that.
This is the cover for State of Heights - my favorite so far - this is book #5 in the series.

This is Passport Across America, an awesome activity booklet to go along with the JGDS series.

Here's Train of Clues, the first book in the JGDS series.

The next book, State of Nature, is in production and the book cover should be released soon - as soon as it is, I'll be sure to post it on my blog so you all can check it out. If you want to know more about, or keep up to date with the series, go to or  There you can find more information on where to purchase these books and see what Ms Eldering is up to.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meet Morgan Faere

Meet Morgan Faere, she is a wonderful diamond-in-the-rough I found. She is an inspiring young fiction writer with big dreams for the future. Lucky enough, she agreed to do an interview with me. So go read the results below and get to know more about this brilliant author I found!

Heather: How long have you been writing?

Morgan: My whole life.
Heather: What started you writing for publication?

Morgan: Dreams.

Heather: Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?

Morgan: Usually it's the urge. My muse is tempermental though. So sometimes I make sure I make myself write. After a little bit the muse comes back to me purring.

Heather: Who is your favorite author?

Morgan: Oh....that's hard to say. I don't know. Really. I love Tamora Pierce, Scott Westerfield, Robin Cook, James Rollins, Dick Francis, and many others. Those are my top 5 I'd say.

Heather: Have you ever had writer's block, and if so how do you get rid of it?

Morgan: Yes. I write. Or listen to music, like always

Heather: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?

Morgan: Follow your passion. If you're passionate about writing, go for it. But don't try to write like someone else. Use your own voice.

Heather: How do you invent your characters?

Morgan: I don't invent them. They're already there. They tell me their stories and I write those stories.

Heather: I know a few authors who keep records (almost like police records) of height, weight, background, etc. of their characters, do you keep tabs on your characters, and if so, what do you usually make note of?

Morgan: I do. I have a list of questions from a good writing site which I use sometimes. My records are in my head or on scrap paper half the time though.

Heather: Some authors say that they feel as though his or her characters are real, do you feel this way, and what do you think about this?

Morgan: Mhm. I do feel this way. I think it's good that their stories are being recorded.

Heather: Do you have anything in the works?

Morgan: I have quite a few things in the works. I have two or three books and I'm thinking of doing a collection of poems I've written. Nothing planned with publishers or anything but...yeahh.

Heather: What would you say is the neatest thing you know?

Morgan: That's neat thing I know is I can vibrate my eyes. Lol. I can also relax people to the point that they are basically drugged. Not really, but it has the same effects as a sedative.

Heather: What was your favorite part about writing your book?

Morgan: Writing is a joy in itself. Finding just the right words....

Heather: Has music ever inspired your writing?

Morgan: Mhm

Heather: Do you like to write in complete silence or does it have to be noisy?

Morgan: Noise. I am not good for working in silence. I always have some music playing or I'm in a noisy room. Or I'm listening to nature.

Heather: What makes you put your characters in the settings that you do?

Morgan: Like I said, they're already there.

Heather: Keyboard or pen?

Morgan: Keyboard is faster, but I like my pencil.

Heather: What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?

Morgan: Trying to get published will probably be the hardest. I always have a hard time showing my work to people. I'm genuinly afraid they'll think it's horrid. Every time.

Heather: What do you usually do while writing?

Morgan: Write? Lol.

Heather: What were the circumstances surrounding your decisions to become an author?

Morgan: There was no "decision". It's always been there.

Heather: Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book, do you think that it’s experience that writes a book or imagination?

Morgan: A little of both. I put experiences in writing a lot. But I need imagination to see my characters and places.

Bonus Questions -

I like the colors of: darkness

The sky is most beautiful when it’s: sunset

My favorite feature of a computer is: dunno

I think inventors should invent a/an: thermasuit

Thing I love most in the world is: Boyfriend

Thing I hate most in the world is: Step-mother

My favorite type of electronic device is: MP3

My favorite thing that has been available before the year 1900: Castles

My favorite thing that has been available since the year 1960: Cell

The oddest thing you have ever written on (hand, wall, etc.) is: Mirrors

To read some of Morgan's work and to find out more about her, head over to her blog -

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Special Treat!

Da, da, da! Here's a special treat for all of you - finally! A very special, never-before-seen excerpt of the new novel by J.M.Levi MoonZeLent. Hope you all enjoy - oh, yeah, and to those who read and comment, they will receive a free copy of my eBook A Gift From Above (eBooks will be sent on July 24th). So, if you need some last minute summer reads... get to reading below, and get to commenting! 5 copies will be given away, so you have a good chance of winning. Ready... set... GO!

A certain routine set in my days along with rules I followed strictly. My daytime hours consisted of my classes and avoiding too much light, and the night hours became longer with the laboratory, among other things. I looked forward to Thursdays where I could feed. Happy that winter months neared since the days grew shorter and the nights longer, I prepared my new wardrobe glad the clothes covered me up and no excuses needed to be made for covering way up this time of year. Without sunlight, my skin grew pale and powdery.


          I rarely saw Professor Truitt these days. His actions grew guarded and stranger than ever with each passing day, even Zee notice his odd behavior. The man never talked or had time for any one, not even his own students or his classes. Zeria told me that her father set up a makeshift laboratory in the basement of his home where he locked himself in for hours at a time. In fact, one day I went to the lab, flipped on the computer, and found all of the files pertaining to #302 and vampires deleted. I managed to find some journals the professor forgot about, and lately those files had become my main focus.

          At the request of the professor, I had taken over the laboratory monitoring every day, even weekends—adding more hours to my earnings. This Saturday the evening came quickly and the trek across campus arrived at a rapid pace. I took the responsibility in a serious manner and enforced the rules the way the professor wanted me to. Even though the man became eccentric in his actions, he held the key to my existence and figured the answers forthcoming. While leaving the doorway into the laboratory, an eerie premonition of impending doom loomed over my being for a moment, which I dismissed as gas or something realistic.

          The dim room lit only by a single, flickering computer monitor gave way to the unrelenting grinding of the wheels in the mice cages.

          I sat hunched over Professor Truitt’s composition notes trying to focus on the written scribbles. As I rubbed my eyes from the strain into the palms of my soft, unlabored hand, the semi-catatonic state from too much reading caused me to almost fall into a deep sleep.

          "Brinng, Brinng," the phone broke the midnight silence.

          I jumped to attention, almost falling to the floor and catching my frame on one smarting knee.

          "Jesus!" I shouted, grabbing for the receiver.

          "No, Jesus has nothing to do with this call," an unknown voice mumbled.

          "Who is this?" I questioned as I tried to recognize the almost familiar sound.

          "I am the voice of all that opens up from the pits of Hell," the voice continued as I rubbed the injured knee now paining and throbbing.

          The hairs stood up on the back of my spine, somehow the voice seemed to convey the truest form of evil. At this point in the game almost nothing surprised me, I regained my composure, and dismissed the caller as a fraternity prank. "Okay, guys, very funny..." continued, "Now..."

          The brash voice interrupted the upper-hand I thought I possessed. "This is no joke," the voice continued, "Tell Professor Truitt he better cease or he will erupt his own demise."

          "What the H--" I began as the telephone clicked silent.

          The oddest thing in the lab that night is every single mouse stood silent for a time. No grinding of the wheels, no chewing, and no scratching at the bottom of the cages. My instincts told me a presence beckoned in this room, a form beyond my wildest comprehensions. As I thought a shadowy figured stood before me in the darkness, the mass disappeared into gray.

          I turned about quickly, expecting a shadow to jump out and grab me. As I returned the receiver to its proper cradle, I noticed something odd. The phone cord was not plugged into the wall. In fact, the cord missed the part that plugged into the outlet altogether.

          That was not the only strange thing that happened to me in the past weeks. Even though I tried to go on and keep to my new routine, things had a way of happening. My determination to keep going and the drive of the unknown kept me focused. Although I might have dwelled on these things more in the old days—before vampires, the business at hand and finding a cure for what I had seemed none important to anything else, evil or not.


MoonZeLent will be released for sale summer 2011. You can follow the author on Twitter and you can check out more on J.M.Levi's website.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Meet Author J.M.Levi!

          The wait for the next vampire novel is not over yet, but it's certainly in the horizon. Meet this fabulous author whom has spun up a creative tale. J.M.Levi grew up in the state of Arizona. The love of writing was fostered by J.M.'s parents’ who read and worked crossword puzzles daily; J.M.'s father encouraged at an early age to keep a journal. Creating a first love of poetry followed by short stories - “Little steps lead to big accomplishments” thus J.M.'s first novel ‘MoonZeLent’ was created. Learn more about this special new author in the interview below.

     Heather: How long have you been writing?

     J.M.: I have been writing my entire life. I have written poetry for almost my entire life since I was able to form words with penned ink. Only within the last few years I started pushing myself to write down the stories or plots I so often formed in my mind with no outlet.

     Heather: Who is your favorite author?

     J.M.: Francis Patton Statham, because she combines history with entertainment creating a phenomenal novel.

     Heather: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?

     J.M.: Never give up, anything you write is worth finishing, and edit, edit, edit.

     Heather: How do you invent your characters?

     J.M.: My characters are pieces of me that I bring out and mold into something greater than I could ever imagine.

     Heather: Do you have anything in the works?

     J.M.: Yes, with MoonZeLent nearing completion, my imagination is turning to the next endeavor – Moon Phases of the Vampire Clan.

     Heather: What would you say is the neatest thing you know?

     J.M.: Success comes from within. Every single one of us has the innate potential to fulfill our thoughts. Pick a goal, and keep reaching towards it – big or little steps, you are still moving forward.

     Heather: What ws your favorite part about writing MoonZeLent?

     J.M.: My favorite part about MoonZeLent was the ride and transformation of the scenes and characters. The twists and turns seemed out of my control at times – like a great, thrilling roller coaster ride.

     Heather: Has music ever inspired your writing?

     J.M.: I would say that music has inspired me. While not directly, music is part of my life, the music I listen to has helped mold who I am – every thing from an Irish limerick or lullaby, to classical or even a rap some to name a few. I like to experience the sounds I can.

     Heather: Who is your favorite character in MoonZeLent?

     J.M.: I love all of my characters, they are my comrades. Besides the main characters, a few of my favorites would be: Levi, who I find strong, mysterious, and warrior-like, Guillermo, who breathes a fresh, southwestern air into the story, and last, but not least, Sinclair, who represents the dark, worldly, vampire of yesteryear.

     Heather: What inspired you to write about vampires?

     J.M.: That’s a good question. Everyone seems to be vampire crazy these days, and I have two teenager daughters that are no different. Having purchased every book about vampires they could possibly want, I found the two devoured the pages chanting for more. Faced with the decision of what to write, I chose vampires figuring there are others out there hungering for more blood.

     Heather: What was your favorite idea that you put into MoonZeLent?

     J.M.: My favorite idea that I put into MoonZeLent would be the use of a blood back for willing donors to feed the vampires in a non-violent manner.

     Heather: Tell us a little bit about your journey writing MoonZeLent.

     J.M.: MoonZeLent began as a challenge to write a novel in one month. After the light bulb came over my head for the title, the story plot began to fall into place. With each added character came a new adventure, twist, or turn in the story. I had couple days where I felt stagnant and wondered if I would complete my goal, but I hung in there nd soon a new portion of the book would just pour out – many times faster than I could write.

     Heather: Keyboard or pen?

     J.M.: Both. Keyboard flows if you know what you are writing about. Sometimes pen is more convenient for the times when you have a sudden idea or burst of words you need to get out before you forget.

     Heather: What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?

     J.M.: I think the hardest part about being an author is gaining respect and getting noticed. Without your book being read and enjoyed, there is no purpose for writing. I also have a fear of typos – I can not stand the thought of my book going out for the world to read with an error.

     Heather: What do you usually do while writing?

     J.M.: I have four children. Need I say more? I write, I potty train, I write, I tutor algebra, I write, I cook. I juggle a baby bottle in one hand and a notebook in the other.

     Heather: What were the circumstances surrounding your decision to become an author?

     J.M.: My daughter is a published author – she is my inspiration and my hero. She has always considered herself a writer.
     Heather: What was the biggest obstacle you faced while writing MoonZeLent?

     J.M.: The biggest obstacle I faced while writing MoonZeLent was the fear that no one would enjoy my words. I often wondered if my book would be good enough to stand with all the others.
     Heather: Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book; do you think experience writes a book or imagination?
     J.M.: I think that imagination writes a book and experience can be referred to as “know how” and “know how” can be gained in a variety of ways.

                     Super Questions:

1. I like the colors of: Cool, calm, blues.

2. The sky is most beautiful when it’s: setting—the southern sunsets or the sun setting over the ocean.

3. My favorite feature of a computer is: Undo.

4. I think inventors should invent a: program that edits for you.

5. Thing I love most in the world is: My children.

6. Things I hate most in the world are: Judgmental people.

7. My favorite type of electronic device is: laptop—duh!

8. My favorite thing that has been available before the year 1900: Words

9. My favorite thing that has been available since the year 1960: internet/windows.

10. The oddest thing you have ever written on: restaurant napkin.

     Thank you for doing this interview J.M., it was a real pleasure. And for all of you readers who are dying to check out more about this new vampire tale, stop by here tomorrow for a real treat - a very special excerpt of MoonZeLent.
Look for MoonZeLent in stores Summer 2011
Can't wait that long? Here's where you can find out more about J.M.Levi and her thrilling new novel:
Follow J.M. on Twitter!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Sending out a quick note to all of my follwers not to panic, I'll be updating the design of my blog for these next few days. I do appreciate feedback on how the new design is coming along, so feel free to comment!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meet Christina!

Today, I have a very special guest on my blog - Christina! She is an avid writer who provides a fresh look in the writing world. So, without further ado, I give you a quite interesting interview!

Heather: So, let's start out with getting to know a little bit more about you as a writer. How long have you been writing?

Christina: I wrote my first poem for my english class in school when I was 13 years old. After that I didn't write anything for about two years. I have been writing frequently since the last 7 years.
Heather: Wow, I'm impressed! What styles do you write in? (i.e. poetry, short stories, novels, etc.)

Christina: I write poetry most of the time though I did try my hand at writing short stories. I plan to write a novel in the future.

Heather: That is wonderful! Hopefully the plans for that novel follow through easily. How do you invent your characters?

Christina: It required me to invent characters for the few short stories I wrote. I guess the characters just came to my mind through my daily experiences with other people, the movies, and the advertisements. There is so much to stimulate our mind in today's world. I get ideas from anywhere and everywhere.

Heather: Yes, this world is quite inspirational. Has music ever inspired your writing?

Christina: Oh yes, it certainly has. I have written so many poems on nature and I hear music in the birds' chirping too. In fact, I even wrote a short story based on a song by Shakira.

Heather: That sounds like a great read to me. So when you're writing down these clever quips, do you use/prefer keyboard or pen?

Christina: Well, that's a difficult question. Earlier, it was the pen. Now-a-days, I would rather go for the keyboard.

Heather: It's definitely a difficult choice! What do you usually do while writing?

Christina: Well, nothing at all. The words just keep pouring and I struggle to write each one down. Umm, yeah, sometimes I listen to music while writing but mostly, I prefer silence.

Heather: Uninterrupted silence is certainly a good tool for writing! What are your plans for your writings?

Christina: (laughs) I have had many plans in the past. But I guess not being a full time writer makes things difficult. I plan to write a novel someday and to be better at writing short stories.

Heather: That is a great plan for the future, to better yourself at writing - yes, we always have something to learn! Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book, do you think it's experience that writes a book or imagination?

Christina: I think it's a little bit of both. If you don't have the imagination, the experience may sound dull, and without experience, you can't be fair to your imagination.

Heather: Very good points there, I couldn't have said it better myself! What is the biggest obstacle you have faced so far in writing?

Christina: Detailing. I struggle so hard to put details in my work. That's why I face problems with short stories. I need to elaborate and show everything. I guess I have to work really hard at it.

Heather: Details are hard to put into words, I certainly have to agree on that one. What do you believe the biggest obstacle will be in your future?

Christina: Time. There's so much to do. I want to write so much more than I do but can't simply because I don't have the time.

Heather: Time is always a killer. I have the same problem. If only we could combine two days into one, it would help - haha! What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?

Christina: Finding readers. *smiles* Though I love to write for myself, there's that one bit that craves for appreciation, for fame. Some part of me wants the readers to FEEL my writing.
Heather: Who is your favorite author?

Christina: There are so many. I love Paulo Coelho. He is a master at weaving beautiful stories. I love Jane Austen (she wrote amazing books), Leo Tolstoy (loved 'Anna Karenina'), Shidney Sheldon and the list never ends. *smiles* Frankly, I haven't read much poetry by famous authors. I just read poetry by other unknown authors at various websites.

Heather: Jane Austen was defintely a great writer. What do you do apart from writing?

Christina: I am a trainee psychologist. With five years of psychology behind me, it's just a matter of two more, before I can call myself a clinical psychologist. I guess that's why my poems travel into the deep, I like to observe and analyze.

Heather: That is very wonderful, Christina, you must have worked quite hard to get where you are today. Thank you for stopping by and doing an interview with me, it was very pleasant and interesting getting to know more about you and your writings.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Write a Good Query Letter

Query letters are important if you're going to even think about sending your work anywhere, be it novel or other. Writing a query letter is actually quite easy, you may be surprised.

I've been around the web and have seen many different ways and different guides to writing a query letter. So anyways, here's the basic layout along with all of the information you'll need to include.

Name (not pen name)

Email Address
Phone number

Title of work (in parenthesis state genre/s)

In the first paragraph give a brief summary of what the book is about. Be clever, because this is the first sample and idea of your book that agent or publisher will be reading. This would make it the hardest part of the query letter that you are writing.

In this next paragraph you are going to include the following information: Target audience (Young Adult, Middle Grade, Adult, etc.), note if the book will be made into a series, and if so list a brief synopsis (2 - 3 sentences at most) of entire series, list the legnth of the book (how many words is it?).

Note if you'll be needed an illustrator or not.

In the next paragraph include a bit about your background in writing, list anything that qualifies you to be writing, any experience, etc. You may not have much to put here, so just do the best with what you have.

Next, note what your marketing and promotion plan is. If you don't have a marketing plan yet, then you shouldn't be writing a query letter so soon in the game anyways. We'll be going more into marketing plans later.

Now this is your brief closing sentence, I usually put something here like "thank you for your time and consideration" be creaive, and be "professionally sweet".

Then you'll put Sincerely,

Your Name

TA-DA! You've just written an awesome query letter! It all should be able to fit on your basic 8 x 10 piece of paper, keep that in mind.

Alright, so after you write your query letter, make you you edit and re-edit it, that is very important. If it has errors in it, it may just be rejected just like that, because errors are a sign of laziness. It's just one page, so make sure you edit it very well. Also, be sure to read the submission guidelines, you may have to add or remove sections depending on the publisher/agent, but usually this query letter works for everything.

After you've finished it's always comforting to get a second opinion, so feel free to send it to me, and I'll be happy to critique it and let you know what I think about it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet Kevin McNamee!

     Meet Kevin McNamee a writer and poet living in Yonkers, NY. He primarily writes for the children’s market. His work has appeared in Beyond Centauri and he has several children’s picture books being published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. His first book, “If I Could Be Anything” is available at, or ask your local bookstore. Look for other titles by Kevin including The Sister Exchange, The Soggy Town of Hilltop, Lightning Strikes, Papa’s Suns, and more.
     When Kevin isn’t writing, he spends his time playing hide and seek, at the insistence of his five year old daughter, and at his day job, at the insistence of his wife. When time permits, Kevin also enjoys fossil hunting, home-brewing beer, and gardening. He is currently engaged in an epic battle against roving gangs of crazed squirrels who are digging up everything in sight. Kevin notes that the squirrels are winning.

     Now, onto the interview!

     Heather: What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
     Kevin: Inquisitive, open minded.

     Heather: How do you think others would describe you?

     Kevin: That depends on who you ask ;-)
     Heather: Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
     Kevin: Outside of writing, I would say that I’m the most passionate about my family.

     Heather: Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

     Kevin: I don’t have any pets now, but over the years I’ve had … cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, gerbils, mice, parakeets, cockatiels, and a waterbug named Boris that I shared a motel room with once. I refused to squash Boris because the motel was so run down that I figured he was paying rent. Plus, Boris was about the size of a large dog and I thought that hitting him with anything would just make him angry.

     Heather: What is your most precious memory?

     Kevin: Recently, I came home from work and I was completely exhausted. My five year old daughter wanted me to play our usual games, tag, hide and seek, and some other game of her own creation which involves me chasing her while she’s wearing a plastic firefighter’s helmet and carrying a beach ball. But I was tired and really wanted no part of it. But my daughter was insistent and I found myself losing patience and I yelled at her. She climbed up on the couch, threw her arms around me and said, “I love you Daddy. Now you can be so happy.” I melted.
     Heather: What is your most embarrassing memory?

     Kevin: My most precious memory and my most embarrassing memory are the same, when I think of how selfish I was being.

     Heather: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

     Kevin: Right now, I still have a day job. Unfortunately, writing hasn’t been my means to self-sufficiency yet. I’m still trying to find that balance between work/family/writing/everything else. It’s a challenging juggling act, but so far, I’ve been able to keep all the balls in the air.

     Heather: Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

     Kevin: Somewhere along the way, I stopped doubting my ability. A rejection of my manuscript ceased to be a rejection of myself. A rejection letter became an opportunity to send my manuscript somewhere else. Comments and criticism became opportunities to strengthen my story, revise something unworkable, or something to ignore altogether if it didn’t fit with my vision of the story. I was able to refer to myself as a writer without feeling self conscious and … oh yeah, someone was willing to pay me for what I wrote.

     Heather: What is going on with your writing these days?

     Kevin: Right now, I have several stories in various stages of completion, one story that has been finalized and critiqued and needs a final revision, and a few that are finished and have been sent out to various publishers.

     Heather: What are your future goals for your writing?

     Kevin: I’ve been focusing primarily on picture books and I would like to branch out to middle readers and Young Adult novels. I have two middle readers in various stages of completion.
     Heather: Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

     Kevin: There’s no such thing as a typical writing day for me. I try to do something writing related every day. But what I’m doing may vary. Sometimes I’m writing new material, sometimes I’m revising, sometimes I’m critiquing, sometimes I’m researching, sometimes I’m promoting. Due to the demands on my time, I’ve needed to adopt the philosophy of doing what I can, when I can.

     Heather: Why do you write?

     Kevin: I first started writing in the second grade. I wrote a poem that was displayed outside the classroom and I liked seeing my poem and my name in public like that. I found that I took to writing naturally. Growing up, I was a constant daydreamer and would construct stories in my head all the time. Eventually, I started writing them down. Throughout my teenage years and throughout adulthood I always felt compelled to write. Although there were many, many times that I put creative writing on the back burner, I found that I was still writing at my day job; memos, procedures, proposals, requests, and I was receiving recognition for it. I realized that writing had been a constant in my life, but I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. Now I make sure that I write what I want as well.

     Heather: What writer most inspires you? Why?
     Kevin: I would say that the writers that I meet both online and in person inspire me the most. They all share the same passion and dedication as I do. They understand the struggles and sacrifices involved in being a writer.

     Heather: How do you define your writing?

     Kevin: I discovered writing for children by accident. I was watching my nieces fight and it gave me an idea for a sibling rivalry story. I thought it would be fun to write, and it was. There was no looking back.
     Heather: In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
     Kevin: “Mommy/Daddy, read that again!”

     Heather: Is there a place where readers can reach you?

     Kevin: Readers can always email me from my website, blog or from this LINK , I’d love to hear from you.

To find out more about Kevin, visit his website at or visit his blog at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Meet Lea Schizas!

      Meet Lea Schizas! She's an author, editor, founder of several awardwinning websites and eZines. A short trip to Ms. Schizas's website - - will show you all you need to know. She has something for everyone in terms of writing, books like Bubba & Giganto: Odds Against Them, Doorman's Creek, The Carpathian Shadows: Volume One, and her newest children's book I Don't Want A Haircut (coming soon) are of these are great examples of the different age groups she writes in. There are also many other titles she has co-authored, so be on the lookout for those.

     In her own words, this is what Lea has to say about her writing career: "Although I feel as old as the Acropolis at times, I started writing way back in my mom's womb, where I mistook the umbilical cord for some cool writing implement. Guess we all have to start at some place so why not at the very beginning, right?

     I am referred as 'Mother Hen' and funny enough, it's not from my five kids but from writers in my writing groups. I have a tendency of 'mothering, scolding, pushing' many writers back on track when they feel they've lost their writing path. So Mother Hen isn't such a bad name after all. I know my kids have referred to me with a bit more color let's say.

     I write in various genres but seem to go back to the Young Adult target group. This age group is so full of spunk and dare you just never know what the characters will do next and that is why I love to write and have a teen as my main character. Also, it keeps me young.

     Some of my favorite authors are: Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Robert Ludlum, J. K. Rowling

     Tune in to my Writing Jungle blog and catch up with my writing career, step by step goal plan on how a mother of five got to the stage she's at right now."

    To learn more about Lea stop by one of her many websites, most are listed on her main website -
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meet Karen Cioffi!

Today, Karen Cioffi will be visiting my blog! She's the talented author of "Day's End Lullaby" a wonderful children's book, perfect for a younger's bedtime story. Karen offers us a helpful atricle on the importance of getting Critique help:
Critiques are Essential

By Karen Cioffi

As a co-moderator of a children's writing critique group and a reviewer for, and Muse Book Reviews, it's easy to tell which authors haven't bothered to have their work critiqued or edited.

Since I come across this writing no-no fairly often, any advice I give, or if I'm writing articles or another e-book about writing, I always include the importance of belonging to a critique group. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides.

The critique group can catch a number of potential problems in your manuscript:

1. Grammatical errors
2. Holes in your story
3. Unclear sentences, paragraphs, or dialogue
4. Lapses in the forward movement of the story
5. Overuse of a particular word, adjectives and adverbs
6. Unnecessary words that need to be eliminated to help tighten the story

The list goes on and on. And, there are many more potential problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It's near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all his or her own errors.

Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those suggestion and comments, but if all the members of your group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity, hopefully a light will go off and you'll pay attention.

Along with having those extras sets of eyes to help you along, you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will soon be able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker. This will help you become a better and more confident writer.

Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you're ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group missed. And, believe me, there will be something in your manuscript that wasn't picked up on.

When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group you join has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers will help you hone your craft just through their critiques of your work.

Karen’s Sites

Karen’s Books:

Writing, Publishing, and Marketing – You Can Do It!

The Self-Publisher’s Guide

Day’s End Lullaby

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meet Gayle Trent!

Today, Gayle Trent joins me on my blog; she is the accomplished author of the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. Here’s a little bit more about her -

Gayle Trent is a full-time author. She is currently at work on a new cozy mystery series involving her hobby, cake decorating. The series features Daphne Martin, a 40-year-old divorcee who has begun the second phase of her life with a new home and a new business venture—Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. Gayle lives in Bristol, Virginia with her husband, daughter and son.

Gayle previously worked in the accounting and legal fields, and her last such job was as secretary to a Deputy Commissioner in the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Though she enjoyed the work, it was a long daily commute and she felt she wasn’t spending enough time with her family. Now she writes while her children are at school; and thanks to a crock pot and a bread machine, can often have dinner ready when everyone gets home.

“I think it’s important to be here for my children…to take part in school functions and to be an active part of their lives,” Gayle says. “I can certainly sympathize with moms who work outside the home—been there, done that—but I would encourage everyone to make time to visit their children’s schools, to have lunch with them [at school] occasionally, to get a feel for who their friends are…little things like that.”

Gayle loves to hear from readers who can contact her via e-mail at or via one of her Web sites: or If you share an interest in cake decorating, please visit Daphne’s Web site, available via click-through from either of Gayle’s sites or at

Heather: Tell us about Dead Pan.

Gayle: Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party. Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

Heather: What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?

Gayle: "I laughed so hard when--" A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, "I never guessed ______ was the villain." Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character's relationships with various members of her family--that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, "Oooh, she got it!" Actually, I'll take anything that's not negative. :-)

Heather: What inspired you to write Dead Pan?

Gayle: I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff.

Heather: What do you advise new writers to do?

Gayle: Read the genre they're interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn't love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Heather: Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Gayle: 1) There is a feral cat who comes to visit us on holidays. We’re pretty sure he belongs to somebody because he’s always well fed. We think we’re his “other family.” We first realized his penchant for visiting on holidays when he came and cried at our door on Mother’s Day. He came back for Memorial Day and Father’s Day, and so on. Sometimes he’ll drop by for a visit, and we have to check the calendar to see what holiday it is.

2) I have an adorable cartoon Debbie Ridpath Ohi did of me with a cake (for “Murder Takes the Cake”) when her blog InkyGirl hosted me on my blog tour. The cartoon is framed and hanging above my desk. I figure I’ll never look that good in a picture again!

3)I once got to interview the famous criminalist Dr. Henry Lee via telephone for an article which appeared in Law and Order Magazine.

Heather: Favorite quote

Gayle: “It’s not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs.” – Vance Havner

Heather: Do you have any funny writing stories to share?

Gayle: I once tried to "write" using my laptop's voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as “a a a a a a a a.”

Heather: What exactly is a cozy mystery?

Gayle: Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.

Thank you for joining us Gayle! I hope all of you readers learned a special thing or two about Gayle!