Debut Authors: Add to Must-Read Lists!

Ask any new author what their most difficult challenge is and they will tell you marketing . . .  getting noticed.  Most authors will say they would much rather focus on writing and have a team of marketing experts do the rest.  Every day, new authors emerge on the scene, vying for their fifteen-minutes of fame in the spotlight.  Some will make it, most will not.  Even authors who hold out and wait for a contract with one of the big seven soon realize what self-published authors have known for a long time – that much of the marketing of their novel lies with them.  Sadly, many great authors go by the wayside because they don’t know how to pat themselves on the back or market themselves through blogs or online socializing sites like Facebook or Twitter.

And then there are those authors who have found the happy medium:  indie publishers.  These authors get the benefit of traditional publishing:  editors, marketing department, book cover artists, etc., but they are also willing to leap through fire and do whatever it takes to make sure their novels are noticed.

That’s where I come in.  I’m an author, content editor and a word-of-mouth marketer.   Nothing can make someone buy something faster than hearing their friend or family member say, “You have GOT to try this!” or “OMG, did you see that movie?  It was so awesome!” or “I read that book in one night.  I couldn’t put it down.”

As an author and aspiring novelist, I like to participate in writer’s workshops, online writing sites and attending writer’s conferences.  I have met some amazing authors along the way, and in the past several months, I have seen many of these aspiring writers fulfill a life-long dream:  to become published authors.  As a member of the writing community, I have had the chance to read their writings while still in their infancy.  I’ve seen stories grow from unformulated ideas into beautifully executed plots, leaving me captivated and spell-bound and wanting more. So, when three authors active on Scribophile (one of which I followed across three online writer’s sites), were picked up by a new, emerging indie publisher, J. Taylor Publishing, I took notice.  What was it about these three authors out of all the authors on the website that stood out to this publisher?   In short, they are all darn good writers of paranormal romance and/or urban fantasy.  I know.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of their works.  So, if you like werewolves, shape-shifters, or mind-benders and hidden fairy realms, jot these titles down and add these debut authors to your collection.

Darkness and Light (A Holloway Pack Story, #1)   by J.A. Belfield   Release Date:  July 1, 2011

Jem Stonehouse, a housewife with a neurotic husband bent on keeping her in line, dreams about werewolves in, what she believes to be, a bid to escape boredom. Sean Holloway is a werewolf, living a charade within the human race, whose mind drifts to a bond he shares with a woman he hasn’t met—at least, not in this lifetime.   Read more

Little White Lies (Mimics of Rune #1)   by Aimee Laine   Release Date:  July 1, 2011

When the government needs a body double for a covert operation, they hire shape-shifter Charley Randall. For two centuries, she’s played every part from foreign dignitary to office drone. The role she wants most, though, is one she’s denied herself three times already. FBI Agent Wyatt Moreland believes Charley’s photographic memory is the key to his latest assignment. He’s oblivious to the true extent of her abilities, but he can’t deny the sense of déjà vu at their introduction. Read more

The Glass Man (A Lila Gray Novel, #1)   By Jocelyn Adams   Release Date:  October 15, 2011

Lila Gray is just a human—at least that’s her mantra when she accidentally topples a building or bends a paranoid local’s gun into modern art. That she can sense and control the minds around her doesn’t prove anything, either. Unwilling to put others at risk, she hides in the wilderness from the beautiful creature who hunts her, one who sees her as his ultimate prize. Alone, the egocentric Glass Man can kill with a thought. Mated with Lila, he’s a supernatural weapon prepared to annihilate the humans he loathes. Read more

These novels are incredible, page-turning reads.  They will leave you hungering for more.  The prose is elegant.  The romance, haunting.  Each will keep you up until the wee hours of morning, unable to put them down.  The beautiful thing is, each one of these authors have additional works in progress, so this isn’t the last you’ll be seeing of them.  They are definitely authors to watch.

There are some other debut authors I have my eye on and will talk about them closer to the release of their debut novels.  One of them, a Young Adult fantasy author, was recently signed by Zondervan Publishing, a division of Harper Collins.  Her series is sure to give teens a few new idols and Stephenie Meyer a run for her money.

New upload of Chapter One

So, taking the advice of a wonderful agent I had the opportunity to work with recently, I have revamped my Chapter 1 (which also meant revamping the next 4 chapters) to give it more ‘girl appeal’.  I hope I have succeeded.  Of course, comments are always welcomed.  You can find it under the heading of my novel above or along the right sidebar.

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!  🙂

And the winner is. . .

Several weeks ago I asked for authors to come up with a way to  describe the following:

A guy standing on a thin layer of snow in his bare feet, shivering, bouncing on the balls of his feet as if the snow were hot coals, before he runs back inside his house.  Need one short, upbeat sentence that shows, not tells…..

The winner of the contest would get a free content edit of his or her first chapter.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

The winner is (drum roll please) . . . Pam Howes!

Woo Hoo!!  Congratulations, Pam.  Please look for an e-mail  from me regarding the piece you would like edited.

A big round of applause to everyone who participated.  I loved all the suggestions!!  You guys rock.

New Author to look out for – Heather Burch

Guys, this series looks amazing!  If you or anyone you know is a fan of YA fantasy fiction, this series will fit right in.  I have got to get her on my blog when the book comes out.

Check out her website and read all about the Halflings.  I am stoked and ready to buy.

Real or imaginary – which best describes your settings?

When you write, do you base your settings on real places or do you let your imagination run wild?

For me, I like to incorporate a little of both.  Having lived in Georgia for a good portion of my life, I spent a lot of time in Dahlonega, Helen and Washington, Georgia.  I’ve camped in the Cohutta Wilderness and all over the north Georgia mountains.  I’ve taken trips to many mountain towns in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky and the beauty and tranquility of the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains has left a long-lasting affect on me.

I’m also a sucker for grandiose and palatial plantation homes with sprawling grounds and long driveways shaded by hundred year old oak trees, but the mountain regions of the Appalachians don’t have many plantation homes to tour.  So, I had to venture a little more south to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

I knew when I started my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King, I wanted it to take place in the north-east corner of Tennessee in the fictional town of Havendale.  If you can find Bristol on the map, Havendale is a stone’s throw away, stuck right there in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  As David is quite wealthy, he had to live in a huge mansion, but I needed it in an almost suburban atmosphere.

While sightseeing on one of my last trips to Gatlinburg, I spotted this beautiful Victorian home set way off a mountain road at the end of a cul-de-sac.  On one side of the street were four or five smaller, older brick homes hidden by their share of trees.  On the opposite side of the road was nothing but forest.  However, at the end of the street stood this stunning giant with amazing towers and gingerbread trim.  As soon as I saw the street and the house, I knew this was where my David and his best friend, Charlotte, had to live.

I toyed around for a long time with David living in this Victorian home, but it wasn’t him.  His wealth came from old money . . . Civil War era money, so his house needed to reflect his past.  I needed a plantation home.  So I turned my sights on Natchez, Mississippi, a town steeped in historical significance and breathtaking plantation homes.  When I found Monmouth Plantation, I fell in love, and thought I’d found the perfect house . . . that is until I stumbled upon Oak Valley Plantation in Louisiana.  When I saw the grounds and the home, there was no doubt in my mind it was where David had to live.  There is even a picture of it on the left sidebar of my blog.

So, I took everything I loved about the house, put my own spin on it, and then moved it to Havendale.  I then named the home Summerwood, and voila!  I have a great setting steeped in imagination and fact without being historically correct.  It’s one of the many things I love about my novel and writing fiction.  The world is anything we want it to be, as long as we make it believable.

So, what about you?  Are your settings based on fact, fiction or both?  I’d love to read your comments so take a moment and leave one behind.

Adult Content! Absolute Write May Blog Chain – This month’s prompt : Relationships

This month’s theme for the blog chain is relationships. Not speaking of romantic relationships, but the relationships between fictional characters.

The purpose of this blog chain is to:

“Show a character’s approach to relationships in a short scene. A harmless exchange between mother and daughter? A submissive character overwhelmed by a dominant partner? A passionate lover’s quarrel? A forlorn, unrequited letter?

Use your characters’ interaction to show the dynamics of their relationship, show how they’re growing together or growing apart, or just have silly fun. Character descriptions at the beginning are forbidden this time around–let them speak or act for themselves!”

The following is an excerpt from a murder/mystery novel I started several years ago and has been sitting on the back burner until I grow tired of writing YA fantasy.  The scene is harsh, violent and sexual so if any of this bothers you, please do not read.  Otherwise, read away.


Emily sipped her coffee and walked toward the breakfast nook, newspaper open to the crossword puzzle, her pencil tucked behind her ear.  Ben’s voice startled her as she stepped into the room.

“Morning,” he said

When had he gotten out of bed?  She had tried to be so quiet!  “Good morning,” Emily said, trying hard to mask her disappointment at finding him there.  “I thought you went back to sleep.”

His fingers drummed the glass tabletop.  His green eyes bore through her like a hot knife through butter.  “I tried to but all I could think of was your trip today.  I guess you’re still excited about it, huh?”  The drumming continued with the annoyance of a dripping faucet.

“Yes, I am.  Thank you for understanding how much I need this.” 

Ben clasped his hands behind his head.  “But that’s just it, Emily.  I don’t understand why you’re going.  You know damn good and well I don’t approve and yet you’re going anyway.” 

“Ben, we’ve been over this a million times.  I need to find the woman you fell in love with.  I want to be the way I was before.  I want us to be the way we were before.”

“You don’t need to go to California for that.”     

“Well, maybe not, but that’s where I’m going.  It’s a great opportunity for me to see new places, experience new things in my life.  Do you want to keep me in this cage for the rest of my life?”

“I want you to stay where the hell you belong, and that’s here with me and Mitch.” 

“I’m sure you and Mitch can manage without me for five days.  I really do need to get away—”

“From me?” Ben interrupted. “You think I don’t know what’s going on?” 

“What are you talking about?”  

“Goddamn it, Emily, don’t play that innocent bullshit game with me!”  He slammed his hands on the table.  “Who is he?”

“Who is who?  What are you talking about?”

He stood so quickly his chair toppled over.  “The ass you’re shacking up with.  Who is he?”

“I’m not shacking up with anybody!”

“Stop lying to me!”

“I’m not lying to you!  Jesus, Ben.  When in the hell do I have time to fool around on you?  You won’t let me out of your sight.  I’ve pretty much been a prisoner in this damn house for five years.  You’re always watching me like a hawk.  You won’t let me work.  I’m always here when you call.  I’m here every night.” 

“Fuck you, Emily!  You’ve had plenty of time to screw around on me.  Now you’re bitchy little friend is tagging along to make it seem the two of you are just going off on vacation!”

“Don’t you dare bring Kit into this!  She has nothing to do with it.”   

“It has EVERYTHING to do with her!  She’s been putting ideas in your head about me, trying to get you to leave me for a long time now.  I’ve read her fucking letters to you.  You can’t deny it!”

“You’ve read my letters?  Who in the hell do you think you are?”

“I’m your husband, damn it!”  Ben’s eyes were glowing like hot embers.  “And I have every right to know what’s going on in that stupid little head of yours!  But, what I don’t understand is who in the hell would want you.  Look at you.  You’re old.  You’re fat!  You’ve got nothing going for you!” 

Emily slammed the mug down on the table.  “Fuck you Ben!”  Hot coffee spilled over the brim and burned her hand.  “I know what you’re trying to do.  You’re trying to break me, trying to make me stay.  Well, it’s not going to work this time!  And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop yelling.  You’re going to wake up Mitch!  He doesn’t need to hear you bantering on.”

“I don’t give a flying fuck if he hears it or not!  He needs to know what kind of mother you are!  He needs to know that you don’t love his father anymore!” 

“Oh, for God’s sake, why are you being so paranoid?”

“Oh, so now I’m being paranoid.  How fucking convenient for you ISN’T IT!”  A spray of spit hit her face.  Emily flinched. “And why do you do that, you little bitch?  Have I ever hit you?”  He came around to her side of the table and grabbed a hold of her shoulders, digging his nails into her skin, his face red with anger.  “Answer my goddamn question!  Have I ever fucking laid a hand on you?”  He pushed her down into the window seat and, to her horror, unzipped his pants.

“No,” Emily’s said trembling, her arms holding her knees against her chest.  The two-day old bruise on her thigh screamed out as a reminder to not contradict him. 

“I didn’t hear you Emily!” 

“No,” she said slightly louder.  Her voice quivered. 

“No, I haven’t.”  He pushed her all the way down on the bench seat, one hand holding her down, the other unzipping her jeans.

“Ben…oh God…please don’t….” 

He bent his head close to her face, ripped her jeans away and spread her legs. 

“Ben…I beg of you…please…don’t…”

His voice became low, calm, twisted.  “I’ve been damn good to you, Emily.”  He rammed himself into her.  “So, you tell me, why are you going three thousand miles away from me unless you’ve found someone else!”  Another shove and then another.   “And stop your fucking crying.  It doesn’t work on me anymore.” 

Emily choked on her own phlegm building up in her throat and nose.

“I’m waiting.”  His green eyes blazed like emeralds in a flame, his hands painfully grabbing and squeezing her breasts, his knees on her hands.

“I…don’t…know.”  She couldn’t speak; the pain was unbearable.  He began to thrust harder, pulling her hair. 

“Are you sure you don’t know, Emily?  I’d think about that answer if I were you.”  He reached over his shoulder and picked up her coffee from the table, barely warm at this point, and threw it in her face.

“There is nobody else, Ben” she sobbed.  “Please believe me!  You’re hurting me…”  The tears continued to come.

He rolled her off the bench onto the cold, hard tile, pressing her face to the floor, and entered her violently from behind, holding down her arms, thrusting madly, taking everything he could from her before he finished.  He leaned over her back and wrapped his fingers around her throat.

“I better not find out that you’ve been lying to me, Emily,” he bit her earlobe, “because if I do, what happened just now is going to seem like a fucking walk in the park.  Have I made that quite clear, baby?”    

She nodded.

“I want to hear you say it, Emily.”  Ben grabbed her hair, pulling her head back.  “Do you understand me?”

“I understand, Ben” she said through her tears.

“Who do you love, baby?”   He kissed her cheek.

“You, Ben.” 

He released her and stood, throwing her clothes back at her.  “Get dressed. You’re a disgrace.”  He picked up the newspaper from the floor and walked past her, kicking the garbage can toward her.  The contents spilled across the floor.  “And don’t forget to clean up this mess.” 

She waited for him to leave the room before she melted into a heap of silent sobs. 


Please make sure you visit the following participant’s blogs or website:

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
Proach – (link to this month’s post)
Yoghurtelf – (link to this month’s post)
AuburnAssassin – (link to this month’s post)
aimeelaine – (link to this month’s post)
Della Odell –

jkellerford – ME!
juniper – (link to this month’s post)
Steam&Ink – (link to this month’s post)
LadyMage – (link to this month’s post)
pezie – (link to this month’s post)
xcomplex – (link to this month’s post)

Maureen McGowan Giveaway

Check out interview with author Maureen McGowan at

Then scroll down to the end of the interview and sign up to win one of Maureen McGowan’s books.

Giveaway Time! Winner’s choice of either Cinderella: Ninja Warrior or Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer.

–Open to US/Canada only, No P.O. boxes
— Giveaway ends on May 19, 2011

That dreaded query!

I despise queries.  Rather I should say I despise writing them.  I’m also not a marketer or sales person.  I couldn’t sell you an umbrella in a thunderstorm if I had to (but I’m learning).

See, I was raised to believe that it is egotistical and selfish, even arrogant, to promote myself.  “Let yourself shine.  Others will see your true beauty and greatness without you telling the world how great you think you are,” my mom would say. 

Now, as I’m sitting here with a great story in my hand, I’m banging my head against a brick wall because I don’t know how to convince others it’s a story the world must read.  Learning to toot my own horn after years of being told not to is difficult on so many different levels.  But, it is something I have to do if I’m to succeed in reaching my goal:  to have my book published in the traditional sense of the word.  Sorry, Mom, but sitting back and letting the world come to me because of some glorious light I put off doesn’t work in the publishing business.  (hmm, sounds like a premise for a book…)

Neither does having a not-so-perfect query letter.  I have been lucky, though, that I’ve had excellent feedback lately from those in the publishing business on what I need to do to make it better.  I seem to have ‘perfected’ the elevator pitch and the hook, but now my trajectory is not quite there, you know, the part that tells how your book moves and in what direction.  I mean, the last person I received feedback from said she knew there was going to be dragons and lots of fighting and running, which is true, but other than that, she’s not quite sure where the book was going.  What was the true conflict?  What is there to be discovered or learned? 

 So, now I’m back to square one.  Well, square two since my hook is pretty solid.

Which I guess leaves many of you wondering what actually goes in a query letter.  Maybe I’m not the one to be answering this but this article can:

Sounds easy, right?  Anyone who has ever tried to write a query letter knows how hard it is, but I found following these steps really helped me find my hook, find my real story in the midst of all the subplots, what and what not to include in my query, and more importantly, how to find my ‘voice’. 

Writing a query takes practice for most of us.  In fact, I find it harder to write than the novel itself.  But with patience and time and some excellent advice from the experts, I’m finding that I’ve made it much harder than it really is.  Right now, the light bulb is beginning to turn on and stay on in my head.  Once it pops on all the way and I see how it all fits together, I’m sure I’ll sit back and wonder what the confusion was all about.

 Of course, writing the ‘perfect’ query will not guarantee my book will get published, but it will bring me one step closer to my goal.  Anything that does that is well worth all the aggravation, sleepless nights and pain.

If you’ve written a query that grabbed the attention of an agent or publisher, please share your experience (and maybe your query).