Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Poet Kim Baker!

 Today I’d like to welcome Kim Baker as my guest. She’s a poet and playwright, and has her first published book of poetry coming out this spring! 

She currently has a poem about Winter featured in the Winter 2013 Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine.

Give us a brief bio, Kim, and tell us what kind of things you like to read and write.
I’m a Jersey girl transplant to Rhode Island when I was 19 years old. This fact makes for an interesting accent, to say the least. I spent most of my adult life working two or three jobs at a time to stay solvent while also trying to get an education. And at 50 years old, my birthday gift to myself was to try writing poetry.

I have always wanted to be a writer, but never really considered myself one despite the fact that I have been a writing professor and writing coach for 23 years. Weird but true. Teaching writing has been so fulfilling for me. And I always stuck one toe into the pond of writing. But I never really dove in.

So I figure 50 is the moment you have to carpe art in whatever creative area you are drawn to most. Time is beginning to run out, and you can now withstand the inevitable rejection that comes with writing: your own and the world’s as you send out work for publication consideration.

I have been ridiculously blessed with many individual publications online and in print in the last six years. And my first book of poetry comes out in March. Awe-inspiring and humbling. A truly life-altering and magical moment.

I love reading. Period. Including, but not limited to cereal boxes, magazines, bulletin boards. And novels of exquisite language, not just story. Poetry for sure. Nikky Finney blew my socks off with her poetic acceptance speech last year for the National Book Award. To be awed that way in life is such a gift. How often does that happen? Thank you Nikky!

What's your favorite part of being a writer and poet?

When people come up to me and say thank you, you said just what I was feeling or I could so relate to that pain/joy/silliness/grief, I realize that writing is a gift to be shared. It is truly like breathing for me, as corny and cliché as that sounds, but what a blessing to be able to share something with others that I love doing and that moves readers, validates them, eases their grief and burdens in life, lightens them. Maybe even inspires them to write, paint, dance.

I write to create art, not to move anyone. But if my art also moves the reader, I have begun a conversation that I hope will just keep going on and on. And my favorite part about being a poet is playing with language and then reading it aloud at poetry readings. I want you to be soooo glad you came, want you to feel my passion for what I am reading and make it your own. Or not. Taste is taste. Can’t force the feeling if it doesn’t move you.

What’s your approach to writing?

My approach to writing is to just write. I don’t have a set schedule. I don’t have set things I write. A dear friend of mine was leading a poetry workshop five years ago. And she was beginning to write short plays, encouraging all of us in the workshop to think about doing that too.

I was terrified.

I was terrified to write something I had no idea how to write. But my friend sent me some resources and a few of her plays as a guide, and she said, “Just jump in and try.”

So I did. And I love writing short plays now. I don’t have too many. But three of them have been stage-read in a short play festival in New Bedford over the last four years. If I had never tried, and believe me the terror and agony of revision work is daunting, I would never have had the joy of seeing my work on stage.

My approach to writing is to say yes. Write. Stretch yourself for yourself. See what you are capable of and how your heart soars and sinks. You will learn a lot about yourself as a human.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Oh, an actress, for sure. I don’t act. But I adore the theater and love watching good acting. So fabulous to see a human become someone else, become a different part of herself. And then touch something in the audience. So I bring that bit of the hambone wannabee to my poetry readings.
If you could invite any three poets to dinner, who would be on the guest list and why?

Oh, Nikky Finney, for sure. She writes it real and sensual and deep into the bones. And her voice is magic.

Mary Oliver. Oh, I would cook for weeks to feed Mary Oliver her favorite foods. I know so many people love Mary Oliver’s work. And of course they do. It is heart breaking and heart swelling, like the natural world she writes about, like life. Mary Oliver makes us long to be outdoors, to play, to learn, to heal, to witness.

And Eamon Grennon, whose words are like a symphony. The music in his poetry makes me weep and glad I am alive on the planet to experience it.

Tell us about your new book, UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

The story about UNDER THE INFLUENCE is wonderful. I entered a contest at Finishing Line Press with my manuscript, but did not win. So I had my momentary disappointment, then dutifully wrote NO in the response space on my very carefully constructed spreadsheet of submissions and forgot about it for a while.

Eighteen months later, I received an email that Finishing Line Press wanted to publish the manuscript. I was at work at the time. I felt myself melting into the carpet, so I got up silently screaming, closed my office door, and had a major meltdown. It was exquisite.

The book contains poems mostly about paintings and some poems in the style of other poems, hence the title. I specialize in writing poems about art, called ekphrasis. I have a number of poems in the book about paintings by Cape Cod artists. In fact, the cover of the book is a painting by Mary Moquin, and I have a poem written to this painting in the book.

I was at work on a Friday, and I felt this insatiable need to go to the Cotuit Art Center, to which I had never been. I was able to leave early enough and arrive at Cotuit before it closed. Mary had a one-woman show and was inside painting alone in front of her work. I went in, and when I walked in front of the Year of the Crow, I sat instantly on the floor of the gallery and started writing. Mary, whom I did not know at the time, finally came over and said, a penny for your thoughts. I explained what I was doing, and I told her if I liked how the poem turned out, I would email it to her. The rest is history. Mary is a magical artist and person.

My poems are very musical. I like lush. And I revise until my brain bleeds. So these poems are very dear to me because I have worked on them so much. If you like art, you will enjoy joining the conversation by reading the poems and then maybe even viewing the art that inspired them and having your own reaction.

Where can readers find your books and where can you be found on the web?

My book is at Finishing Line Press, a small, award-winning press.

And I have started a website at: You’ll find information about the book, testimonials about the book, info about me, and samples of poems from the book. Soon, I’ll have reading dates there also.

Thanks for visiting today, Kim, and sharing with us!

Thank you so much, Katie, for the opportunity to share some of my life story and tell you about my book.

What I realize by writing all this down is how incredibly blessed I am in life, which includes embracing and being embraced by such a talented and loving community of writers, such as you. Never give up your dreams. If you haven’t achieved them yet, you are simply still in rehearsal. The show WILL come to town starring you if you keep believing. Carpe art!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Research vs. Imagination

Pour a fresh cuppa and pull up a chair. Feel free to share my M&Ms. I'm in the home stretch of my WIP's first draft and taking a little break to wonder about...


Specifically, when you're writing a fantasy novel and making sh*t stuff up as you go along, how much actual research is an author expected to do?

My current WIP is a sequel to my upcoming release Son of a Mermaid. In this second book, the main character needs to travel from Cape Cod all the way to the Aegean Sea. Now, he is part-merman, so he could just swim there, but the storyline dictates that he needs to travel like a human. You wouldn't believe how much time I *wasted* pouring over airline schedules and travel itineraries, and different types of airplanes employed for the different legs of the journey. Details, details... but do they matter to the readers? A reader will whip through those pages in minutes, if not seconds. Was it worth the hour or so spent looking up options on the internet?

This week, I lost myself for a bit researching Loggerhead sea turtles in the Mediterranean. Readers probably wouldn't know the difference if I gave the wrong description or details, as long as it sounded vaguely turtle-ish. Or would they?

My first novel, Unfolding the Shadows, involves ghosts, hospitals, drug dealers, and diabetes. I spent way too much time researching to get the details right and make it flow naturally, down to researching the floor plan of the specific hospital and the smells that cling to your clothes if you spend time in a meth lab. I visited so many ghost sites I lost track of which ones I'd already been to. (I still get email solicitations for diabetes treatments. Spam may be the biggest downside of research.)

When you're reading a book, do the details matter? Which details are important and why?

When you're writing, how often do you get stuck on an idea and turn to the internet for answers?

If you're reading a fantasy set in our real world, do you like having real world details in there? Or is it okay for the author to make shit stuff up as they go along, details be damned?

As for me, I'm still reading about Loggerheads and Narwhals. (Very cool creatures!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Author Patricia Lee and DESTINY'S PRESENT

My guest today is Pat Lee, whose latest novel is DESTINY'S PRESENT, published by Crescent Moon Press and available now in paperback and ebook.

Welcome, Pat! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

Although still in pursuit of a place truly called home, I’m currently living in Ontario, Canada with my husband and three cats, all of which claim rule over the house at one point or another.

When my nose isn’t pressed to the laptop monitor, you can find me at the public library. Besides dreaming up the next novel, I also enjoys traveling, baking, camping, wine, and of course reading – not necessarily in that order.

I like to read a variety of genres – contemporary, thriller/suspense, romance (and most of the sub-genres), fantasy, non-fiction and some science fiction.

Currently I’m writing fantasy with some romantic elements and once I’ve finished the third book in my trilogy I’ll have to see if I plan on continuing with that. But I’ve also written literary short stories and plays, one of which was staged at a regional theatrical festival in 2006.

What's your favorite part of being an author?

Ohhh, good question. I’d have to say the actual writing. Letting the words flow. Sometimes they pop into my head faster than my fingers can type, hence the reason I’d never be able to write longhand. I’m happiest when I’m so immersed into my writing that I barely take time to eat.

What’s your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Definitely a plotter. First I get an idea for a book, let it rattle around in my head for a bit and see if it’s viable. Then I write a short outline in point form, listing key things that need to happen (usually around a dozen) and then I start.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A professional book trailer producer!! I’ve recently found out how much I love doing this and I believe the music is just as important as what the message of book is. It’s a fantastic creative outlet that I find very rewarding once it’s done and I’m tenacious enough to tweak it until it’s perfect. 

Here's the trailer for Destiny's Present...


Tell us more about your latest release, DESTINY’S PRESENT 


Sure! The sorceress Narena has done many things for Leisos - advised the king, helped heal a young girl and sent a prince forward in time to save his life. Now, to protect her people, she may have to sacrifice herself, her lover, her child. Maybe even all three.  

She hunts for the one who threatens the royal family and the throne of Leisos. And also seeks the daughter taken from her at birth. There's only one problem. They might be one and the same. What she finds on her quest is love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, and a revelation that will change her life forever.

Ardis is a warrior and former captain of the king's army. His allegiance to the throne lives in his blood - as does the secret he carries. He will protect both at all costs. Even if it means killing Narena or someone she loves.

Okay, if you’re casting the movie of your book, who would play the main characters?

For Ardis, that’s easy. Oded Fehr (he played Ardeth Bay in the two Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser.) He’d be perfect for the role as long as his hair wasn’t too short LOL!!

As for Narena, this one’s really hard. I mean I had to pour over pictures on the net to get an idea, because I see Narena in my head and she isn’t anyone I’ve seen in movies before. If I had to choose it would be either Monica Bellucci, who played the role of Veronica in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Angelina Jolie, as long as she died her hair darker, to an almost black. Both actresses are a bit older, which is what Narena’s character is like.

Where can readers find your books and where can you be found on the web?

Destiny’s Present on Amazon:   and 
Destiny’s Present on Barnes and Noble:

Destiny’s Past on Amazon:
Destiny’s Past on Barnes and Noble:
Destiny’s Past on Kobo:
Destiny’s Past on All Romance ebooks:

Thanks for visiting today, Pat! If you have any questions for Pat, feel free to comment - and be sure to stalk find her on Facebook and her website (her links are below!)
About Pat Lee:

Pat has had a love affair with the written word since childhood, many times immersing herself in the stories of Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene. Her active imagination gave inspiration to short stories and her first play as a teen.

As an adult she penned an award winning short story titled “The Battle” and “A Precious Glimpse in Time” published in an anthology. Her full-length play, “The Truth About Lies,” was staged at a theatrical festival competition in 2006.


Although still in pursuit of a place truly called home, Pat currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and three cats, all of which claim rule over the house at one point or another.

When her nose isn’t pressed to the laptop monitor, you can find her at the public library. Besides dreaming up her next novel, Pat also enjoys traveling, baking, camping, wine, and of course reading – not necessarily in that order.

You can find her on Facebook, her website or send her an email at

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: January Black by Wendy Russo

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Pub Date: January 2013

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.


(Okay, first of all I have to say up front that I had a hard time getting into this book. The first chapter threw me for a bit of a loop as I was expecting YA and chapter one is more New Adult, with 18-year-olds in bed together. But then the story steps back two years and really starts. And, okay, the second chapter kept me confused and feeling like I’d missed something, and I thought it was me not understanding all the techie stuff… but then it got better. And then it got way better. So really, keep reading. You don’t want to miss this book.)

The Review:
Matty is a sixteen-year-old genius who is somewhat of a contradiction. He thinks in numbers and understands the complex new technology that is a given on this world, but also loves the smell of old books and appreciates the beauty of “old world” items. He bristles at the rules imposed by his strict class-based society and questions all authority, but also has trouble relating to others. Until he meets Iris.

Iris is also sixteen and also full of contradictions. While she works as a gardener on The Hill, where the ruling class and King reside, she wasn’t born into the working class. Her father (now deceased) was a blind tech genius who helped invent much of the people-tracking technology still used in their world. She doesn’t know quite what to think when one of the Regents starts paying attention to her, and then the King himself intercedes to help set up their first date. And then she finds out this boy who seems to be friends with the King is also her boss’s son. A strong personality in her own right, none of this seems to faze Iris too much until Matty gets closer to answering the question posed by the King.

King Hadrian has given Matty a quest of sorts, to answer a single question in order to receive a Master’s diploma. Although it seems simple on the outside, the question is itself something of a riddle that has Matty delving into the very origins of his society and discovering the true meaning of Liberty that seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

I enjoyed this story and its perspective on a society losing its ultimate ideals and values in pursuit of peace and safety. So much of the story line is timely for our current, post-911 society. How much of our personal liberties are we willing to sacrifice, and once sacrificed can we ever regain them? What is each of us willing to risk or sacrifice in order to make our world a better place?

To buy this ebook on Amazon:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Puppy Tales: In Which Puppy Grows Up

It seems like just yesterday that Puppy was a mere puffball, hiding underneath things and falling asleep in the oddest places.
The mere act of drinking from the water dish was enough to wear her out.

 She loved to curl up between our feet, under our desks, anywhere to be close to us... a complete lap-puppy. And she's still a lap dog, of sorts.... she just doesn't fit in anyone's lap anymore, now that she's 150 pounds of Puppy goodness. And she still bounces when she romps, although she doesn't get quite as much lift from her ears anymore...
Puppy turns three this weekend. Three years of Puppy fun, Puppy bounces and Puppy mischief. hard to believe it's been a whole three years, but also hard to remember a time without her in our lives.

Happy Birthday, Puppy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Heroines with Heart Book Tour: Seeds of Discovery by Breeana Puttroff Review and Kindle Fire Giveaway!

I've signed up as a new reviewer with HEROINES WITH HEART.

Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. They feature authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. They're also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year. Want updates?
Today's review is of SEEDS OF DISCOVERY, by Breeana Puttroff. It's the first book in her Dusk Gate Chronicles series.
What would you sacrifice to find true love and save a kingdom?

The Best-Selling Kindle series, The Dusk Gate Chronicles, will have you falling in love all over again.

Quinn Robbins has never noticed William Rose at Bristlecone High School – not until the night she almost runs him down in her car. After that, she never stops noticing him. Because William is different than the other boys…

Why does a high school senior always have his nose buried in medical journals?

And how does he keep disappearing down by the river every Friday night?

When William starts to show up in her dreams, she is unsure if her curiosity has turned into obsession – or if there is something more mysterious going on.

Unable to rest, Quinn follows William to the river one Friday night…and discovers something startling – something she thought could only exist in a fairytale.

Uh oh, Quinn. 1st Period History will never be the same!

Seeds of Discovery is Book One of the Dusk Gate Chronicles, a new Young Adult series that has been described by readers as “The Chronicles of Narnia meets Cinderella.” Go on an unforgettable journey with characters who will find their way straight into your heart.

The elevator pitch of "Narnia meets Cinderella" is an apt one. If you like fairy tales and quests, this might be right up your alley!

High school junior Quinn Robbins follows a mysterious boy and finds her way into a totally different world, the Kingdom of Eirentheos. She has a full plate at home, helping care for her siblings, going on her first (very innocent) date with a hot senior football player, classes and her after school job at the library... but there's something about the quiet boy William Rose that has her suspicious, needing to solve his mystery. So she follows him, making the leap of faith to step off a seemingly broken bridge into... another world.

Time moves at a different speed than in her Colorado hometown of Bristlecone, where her biggest concern is finding a dress to wear to the Valentine's Dance. In Eirentheos, there are real problems, like the mysterious illness that's plaguing the young children of the kingdom. Here, William is a prince in a large and loving family, as well as an accomplished doctor. But it's Quinn, with her outsider's view of their world, who helps to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed the story and found it a fast, easy read, finishing it in a day. It's very young YA, more fairy tale than teen angst, as we meet these extremely polite and well-mannered 16- and 17-year-olds, and the only kisses are on cheeks and foreheads. This is the first book in a series, so not all story lines are resolved by any means, but the main "quest" of the book - figuring out how to cure the mystery illness - gets wrapped up nicely before Quinn must return to her "real" world in Colorado. In this way it truly reminded me of the Narnia Chronicles - high stakes and adventure in one world, homework and checking in with mom in the other.


Heroines with Heart has a massive giveaway going on via Rafflecopter, and everyone can enter! Check out the Rafflecopter widget below (if I've figured out how to add it correctly) and enter to win!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Breeana's bio reads:

After eleven years as an elementary school teacher, I have decided to reinvent myself (whatever that means).
Now I run my own business, play with and educate my beautiful little girl, Little Goose, and write books for young adults that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The first three books in my original fantasy series, The Dusk Gate Chronicles, are now for sale in Kindle format at, for Nook at, in the iBooks store, and at most other digital retailers. The books are also in paperback at a number of online retailers.
Also, visit her at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Writer Wednesday: To Series or Not To Series?

Like many writers I know, I tend to have more than one book "going" at a time, both in writing and in reading. I've currently got 3 books I'm reading - one on the Nook, one on my computer and one paperback. In terms of writing, I have one release coming up in May, working on writing the sequel to that, and have another manuscript out on submission. Threes seem to be my thing...

But getting back to my topic. Series and sequels.

Do you like to read books that come in a series? Where you get to know the characters better over multiple books, where there can be a larger arc and growth? (I know I've discussed my love of Charlaine Harris many times on this blog...)

Do you like to write books in a series? Investing yourself in your main character and then giving him or her new challenges to face? Or do you prefer stand-alone books, with a completed story arc and definite ending (HEA or otherwise)?

My kids - like most kids, I think - like series YA. My daughter couldn't get enough of Judy Moody when she was younger, and then Meg Cabot's Allie Finkle, then Heather Brewer's Vladimir Todd books and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series. My oldest child also totally prefers to read books he knows have follow-on stories. He wants to invest himself in characters that he can read more of.

The paperback I'm reading is his, the third in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. The main character is a Druid, centuries old and living in modern day Arizona with his wise-cracking Irish Wolfhound, interacting with a whole slew of supernatural creatures and all manner of gods, demons and whatnot. 

Kind of like Charlaine Harris for guys.

Like I said, I'm working on a sequel to my mermaid book that's scheduled for a May release. I think series are a good thing for readers, especially for kids and teens. And I still love my main characters and want to take them to new places and new oceans, and give them new challenges to overcome. I don't have a defined story arc for a series, like J.K.Rowling and the number of years at Hogwarts (one book per each year of school, even though Harry didn't attend his final year...) But I know that my main character Shea has more that he needs to do.

Opinions? Do you read or write series books? Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Three Goddesses Release Party TODAY!

Three Goddesses. Three Authors. One Big Release Party!

Lynn Rush, Jean Murray, and Sasha Summers are celebrating their new releases with an all day party!
***The grand prize is a KINDLE PAPERWHITE***

Follow their blogs all day long. Each hour, starting at 7am EST, there will be new adventures and tasks to earn entries toward the grand prize.

Watch out for little prizes along the way, too. These three Goddesses are full of surprises.

DATE: Tuesday January 22nd, 2013 - - TODAY!!!
TIME: 7am-7pm EST
WHERE: On the author websites - Here are the links!
Jean Murray:
Sasha Summers:

Lynn Rush:

See you there!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cover Reveal: THE LAST KEEPER'S DAUGHTER by Rebecca Trogner

The Last Keeper’s Daughter

Born into old money, Lily Ayres lives at Waverly, her family’s estate situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Paris, Virginia.  She is a strange, small, almost mute, young woman who has no idea that her father has given her to the Vampire King Krieger.  Walter Ayres is the King’s Keeper and part of a secret society of historians who unearth, preserve, and attempt to understand relics of long forgotten civilizations.
Lily has never felt comfortable in the human world, but after she suspiciously falls down a flight of stone steps, and is healed and claimed by Krieger, she realizes there is another world.  In this Other Realm she feels a sense of belonging, and begins to untwine the mysterious event which left her mentally and psychologically damaged.
When Walter disappears in England, Lily works with human and supernatural beings to uncover his whereabouts.  With each new discovery, she is pulled deeper into the vortex of magic, intrigue, and dark desires that permeates the supernatural world.  The revelations revealed unfold a story of deception and betrayal that threaten to tear the thin veil between the supernatural and human world asunder.

About the Author:

Rebecca Trogner lives in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, and frequently crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains that were the inspiration for Krieger’s home. She always dreamed of being a writer, but got sidetracked by the day-to-day adventures of life. With the encouragement of her family, she has finished her first novel and is currently writing the next book in The Last Keeper’s Daughter series. Rebecca lives with her husband and son, and a rescue dog named Giblet. To find out more about the author visit

Friday, January 18, 2013

Puppy Tales: A Love Affair with the Ocean

If I had a quarter for every time someone's said, "I didn't know Saint Bernards liked to swim," I'd be rich. Seriously rich. And she's not even three years old yet.

Maybe it's because she's never known anything else. Puppy has been taking walks on the beach almost every day of her entire life. All year long, in all kinds of weather. And she loves it all.
She and Big Dog love to play chase through the shallows, splashing each other and all of the rest of us in the process. But really, anyone who's been in the ocean knows splashing is half the fun!

She's not the most graceful of swimmers, but she's not afraid to get right in there and paddle around. Being wet all over is never an issue for her. Unless the hose is involved. But ocean? No problem.
And she likes the beach in every kind of weather, too - the sound and fury of the wind and waves don't seem to bother her in the least. Sometimes they even add to the excitement.

But this is what she knows. Life at the beach. Of course she loves it. Who wouldn't?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Author Wendy Russo and JANUARY BLACK giveaway!

I'm so excited to welcome author Wendy Russo to my blog today! She's on a virtual tour promoting her new release, JANUARY BLACK, and agreed to stop by for a virtual cup of coffee and a little Q&A time. (and she's gracious enough to ignore the dust as well as the Saint Bernard drool on the back of the sofa...)

 Hi, Wendy! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I'm an '80s kid, from Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. My parents struggled during my teen years, so I spent a lot of time with school sports and libraries. I read all of Francine Pascal's "Sweet Valley High" series. When I ran out of those, I read "Sweet Valley Twins." Sometime during high school, I picked up Joan D. Vinge's "The Snow Queen" because I thought the cover was beautiful. It ruined me for the young adult genre at the time.
I read Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" right out of high school. It took me three years and influenced both how I read books and how I write them. I picked up the Star Wars series "The New Republic," and loved them. I spent a few years not reading, and then reading non-fiction. Dan Brown's books got me back into reading. In 2005, I spent a week in San Diego while my husband was at a design conference. I read all of Dan Brown's books back to back. (I don't recommend doing that, by the way. Brown has a formula, and when read in succession, the plot twists and villains become obvious way before they should.)

Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" defines the perfect book for me. It's part speculative, part fantasy, with colorful and complex characters, tangled sub-arcs, and a fully realized world built in small details. The author's joy in storytelling is apparent on every page. That's what I look for in books...the author's joy. Genre doesn't really matter.

I write science fiction and fantasy. Given my reading resume, I doubt anyone would be surprised.

Wow. I guess I'll need to add The Snow Queen to my TBR pile! So tell me... What's your favorite part of being an author?

Oddly, I think my favorite part is the editing. The words are on the page at that point. When you edit, you can see the whole story at once and play with what's there. I edit on hard copy, so that I can flip between scenes and write directly on the pages. I enjoy the tactile nature of it.

Cool. I like the editing part, too. What’s your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

These days, I plot a lot more than I used to. Once upon a time, I just to just type out scenes and then stitched together the ones that worked. In 2000, I took Short Novel Writing with Moira Krone. She's an award-winning southern fiction author who teaches creative writing at Louisiana State University. Her criticism is sharp as her eye, and I got an "A" for the novel I wrote in her class. That was a huge boost of confidence for me as a writer, that someone of her talent thought I have talent. Anyhow, that class showed me what I could accomplish with a little plotting, so now I plot.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I'm a wife, a mom, and an IT analyst. If I didn't write, I might be a little better at gardening, cooking, or baking. 

Tell us about your new release, JANUARY BLACK

JANUARY BLACK is a soft science fiction novel for the older YA audience. It features Matty, a 16-year-old genius who gets expelled from school for a very small act of mischief. King Hadrian gives him a second chance at graduating. If Matty can answer one question, the king will have his former school give him a diploma. JANUARY BLACK tells the story of Matty falling in love, getting his heart broken, and finding his place in the world, all while looking for an answer.

Okay, if you’re casting the movie of your book, who would play the main characters?

In my head, Iris has been Taylor Swift. Hadrian has always been Ryan Reynolds. But Matty, I've always kind of settled on Jackson Rathbone.

Where can readers find your books and where can you be found on the web?

You can add January Black to your Goodreads bookshelf (, or purchase it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

You can stalk me online in the following locations: Blog |  Facebook |  G+ | Twitter |Goodreads

Thanks for visiting today, Wendy!!! There's an awesome excerpt from her story on her website  - visit to get hooked!

Wendy is giving away some cool prizes along this blog tour - make sure to visit her website! One lucky reader will win even a signed copy of JANUARY BLACK!

And... Wendy's got a special treat for us! Somewhere on this blog post there's a link to a hidden, password-protected excerpt on her own blog. (Hint: the password is her protagonist's first name.)

Find the link, comment on the hidden excerpt page and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of JANUARY BLACK! But first, be sure to leave a comment here or ask Wendy a question, just to let her know you were here to visit!

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Pervasive Procratination

We've all been guilty of it. If you're a student of any kind, admit it. You've done it. If you're a writer, you're probably uber-guilty of it. You know what I'm talking about.
Procrastination. Putting things off.

(Wait, why? What did you think I was talking about? Get your mind out of the gutter...)
I know I procrastinate a lot. I've even blogged about it, like, A LOT. (starting back in 2008 and 2011) (and in 2012 about the Power of Facebook to help you stop procrastinating) ... Anyway, after writing a blog piece entitled "Procrastination Nation" I was contacted by Allison Morris from 
Well, not right away.
Seems she had  graphic to go with that - as in, it has the same title as my blog post from June 2011, and wanted to know If I'd like to post it. I asked her to write a little something to go with her cool graphic, tailored to my writer/reader audience. (And you too, Dad! Hi there!)

Allison says:

One of the best things about being a writer is setting your own schedule. 
One of the drawbacks, however, is procrastination. Putting things off can be poison for your schedule and your motivation. And it's a more common problem than you think.
Chronic procrastinators are on the rise, with three in four college students surveyed claiming to be plagued with putting things off. 
Technology and social media so prevalent in our lives, it makes procrastinating all the easier. The average American office worker wastes two hours a day on the Internet!

Putting things off begets more procrastination. And that creates unnecessary stress on professionals and writers of all types. 
In fact, adults in a survey revealed that almost half of today's workers claim that procrastination negatively impacts their happiness. 
But you don't have to stress yourself out to get things done. 
Setting small goals, enforcing personal deadlines, and having an accountability partner can be your saving grace, though it's best to avoid procrastinating early and often. 
Check out this infographic for some more information on the state of our procrastination nation. Don't put it off!
Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic

Internships Infographic

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Featured Book: MINDJACK TRILOGY Live-Action Trailer!

Have you heard about the Mindjack Trilogy by Susan Kaye Quinn?

She released a new live-action trailer for it on Thursday - and can I just say how jealous I am? Wow! I can so totally see this as the next teen movie hit - so much more interesting than Twilight... but maybe that's just me. You take a look and decide for yourself.

To celebrate, Susan has put the first book in the series on sale for 99 cents until this Thursday - go buy it now!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Puppy Tales: Wherein Puppy Discovers Gingerbread

Puppy has always had a "thing" for maple syrup. She likes the sweet stuff. So when the first gingerbread man fell on the floor this December, she swooped in to eat it. I smiled and thought, "Oh, how cute."

I never realized she'd become obsessed with gingerbread.

I guess it makes sense. The sweet of the sugar combined with the tart of the molasses and the tang of the ginger - that's why people like gingerbread, right? Why not Puppy?

We have an annual tradition of holding a gingerbread house building contest between the kids during the week before Christmas. The kids all build their own, which are judged and then proudly displayed thoughout the rest of the holiday season.

Puppy has had her eye on these houses for weeks. And when I finally decided to clean up the last of the Christmas decorations, she was glued to my side. Waiting.

By now, the candy that's left is hardened and icky, the sugar icing is like cement and the gingerbread itself is dry and stale.

Puppy didn't care.

I decided to let her take a lick or two of the poor little house. I mean, it was going in the garbage anyway. She licked the peppermints. And backed away. She tried licking the gumdrop bushes. And backed away.

So I put the house into a bag to toss in the trash. A chunk of the roof broke and fell on the floor, and she swooped in and gobbled it up. A lightbulb went off in my head - aha! She just wants the gingerbread. So I broke up the walls that weren't covered in sugar and candy and gave her a small bit. Which she gobbled greedily. And then broke up the rest (removing teh offending candy and sugar cement) and put it in her treat jar.

Puppy'll be happy for the rest of the weekend with her new "biscuits."

How about you - what do you do with your gingerbread houses?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Guest Author Kathleen Mueller

Today my guest is Kathy Mueller, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with as she’s a contributing writer for CapeWomenOnlinemagazine. A part-time Cape resident, she’s written some wonderful articles for the magazine, including a Community Action piece in the upcoming Winter 2013 Issue, about the Eastham Dog Owners Association.

Hi Kathy, and welcome! Give us a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write. 

I live in central Massachusetts “farm country” most of the time, and have a second home on “my favorite place on Earth,” Cape Cod, where I try to go as often as possible. I’m in a relationship with the smartest and most handsome guy in the world, and he tolerates our three cats and three dogs!

We have always had many pets – at one point we had 28 cats on our farm! We lost our beloved Hector (dog) in 2011 and still feel the heartache every day, even though we still have his older companion, Hobie (13 next week), and we adopted TWO (that’s right, TWO) puppies last year – Charlie Brown and Cooper. Our three cats, Tux, Newman and Cali are great family members as well. 

I write short non-fiction essays about dogs, cats, fibromyalgia and other topics, usually in the first-person. I am planning to publish my dog essays into a book one of these days, headlined by the longest essay I’ve ever written (no one has seen it yet) about our dog, Hector.

I read like a fiend and always have ever since I can remember. Usually, I have two books going at once. For example, right now I’m reading Steve Jobs’ biography by Isaacson, as well as a self-help book about chronic pain. My favorite books are historical novels, anything and everything by Ken Follett especially. Next in line would be biographies, and then tame murder mysteries like those by Mary Higgins Clark. I don’t like anything too violent or graphic. I visualize everything I read, and graphic stuff can keep me upset for days!

What's your favorite part of being an author?

The feedback. I love to entertain people with my stories. Each day at the office, I usually gather my girls in my department together and tell them the story of the day – either something that happened with the dogs or cats, or something that happened while I was out running my morning errands. I enjoy having an audience and describing things that happen, and making them laugh. I get the same thrill when people tell me that an essay I wrote made them cry, or when they ask when is the next volume of my parents’ letters coming out.

What’s your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I totally go with the flow. I will go weeks without writing because the muse is absent. Since I don’t write fiction, I don’t follow a plot. If something pops into my head, or if something happens worth writing about, I sit down and hammer it out on the keyboard. I type over 100 WPM so the fingers fly.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Well, since I am only a writer in my spare time, the answer to this question is easy!

I would be, and am, an executive with a tour company. We send teachers and their students on group tours, mostly to Europe. I’ve been in the student group tour industry for 28 years and no two days are ever the same. It is not a boring job, that’s for sure. I wear many hats, but these days my main function is bookkeeping and maintaining the customer database (addresses, phone numbers, names, etc.). A far cry from the creativity of writing!

I do get to dabble in writing some marketing prose and (more often, unfortunately) answering customer complaints! Like I said, I wear many hats at the office.

I volunteer for two non-profits, both dog-related. One is the Eastham Dog Owners’ Association where I am one of their newest board members. The other is Fairy DogParents, located on the South Shore. They assist families to prevent them from surrendering their dog to a shelter.

If I didn’t already have all of this going on, and could start with a clean slate, I would probably be a dog trainer, pet sitter, or vet tech. Something where I could handle and work with animals. 

Tell us about your book!

My book is a three-volume set called MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD. My father wrote letters to my mother during World War II and my brother and I found the letters after our mom passed away – there are over 1,000 letters from 1942-1945. There are a few letters written by my mom, but the majority are my dad’s letters to her.

My dad died when I was in my twenties. When we found the letters, I asked my brother if I could keep them because I probably wanted to do “something” with them. I had no idea that my dad was such a good writer. He was writing to an audience of one, of course, but his knack for putting the reader (his wife) right in the middle of everything that happened is superb.

I decided, instead of writing the story in my own words, I would just let the letters speak for themselves. I have dutifully re-typed every one of the letters, word-for-word. (Those typing skills sure came in handy.)

My parents signed all of their letters (even birthday cards and Valentines throughout their marriage) with the acronym “MTAITW”. It stood for “More Than Anything In The World,” and that was the obvious choice for the title of the books. I like to say that my parents invented texting, ha ha. Volumes 1 and 2 are done and available. I’m working on Volume 3, and it looks like it may actually go to 4 volumes, which I hope pleases people instead of drives them nuts!

Okay, if you're casting the movie of your books, who would play the main characters? I know it's your parents - but think Hollywood for a moment...

If I could go back to the 1940s (my favorite movie period – I’m a huge 1940s movie buff, go figure!) it would be Ernest Borgnine and Lucille Ball.  Mainly because of the physical resemblance to my parents. If it was today it would have to be Jack Black and Katherine Heigl! Although, can Katherine wear flats so that she’s shorter than Jack?

Where can readers find your books and where can they stalk find you on the web?

I have three web sites:;; and

My books are available on Amazon, just search “More Than Anything in the World Mueller” and they’ll pop right up. They are available in print and for Kindle.

Thank you so much for being here today, Kathy!