Thursday, June 30, 2011

Elizabeth Mueller's Promo Tour

Would you like a chance to win some fabulous prizes and meet a special lady at the same time?  Do you want a chance to visit some new blogs and make new friends and followers? Do you want to learn more about the craft of writing at the same time?  Keep reading.

Join Elizabeth Mueller in her celebration the entire month of July for Darkspell’s release this fall!

The darkness sends his followers, the Watchers, to haunt Winter Sky, but Alex Stormhold battles to keep her safe from the prowling evil. Rather than being dragged into the dark's destruction, Elizabeth Mueller will provide a way for you to protect yourselves.

These are the *talismans that you could win:

Nox Arcana's Shadow of the Raven for the FIRST WEEK

Canvas Wall Scroll Tapestry: 12"X 17" for the SECOND WEEK

Dragons Sculpture Bookends: 4"X5"X8" for the THIRD WEEK

My favorite: 13" tall. Dark Shadows Lamp for the FOURTH WEEK

Here's how to enter so you can avoid the Shadoweaver's clutches:

It is your charge to haunt the resident bloggers--listed below--that are hosting Elizabeth Mueller for the week. Go here to answer the questions posted into the contact form every Saturday:



♥ Each correct answer will equal one entry.

♥ Every comment in the blogger's post will equal one entry.

♥ Every follower on Elizabeth Mueller's blog will have 2 entries: a must to qualify for 2 entries: please let her know that you're following her!



She will announce the winner Sunday evening on her blog!

Do you see Mr. Ole Dark Shadows Lamp there? He likes to pretend that he's the venomous Shadoweaver who seeks Winter. Could it be because he looks so much like him?

Elizabeth will enter every person who dares to display his blog button. Just cut and paste the html code from her grab button on her sidebar to your sidebar for a second chance at the lamp.

♥ In order to qualify, you MUST leave comment in this post with your blog address stating that you've posted the button to your sidebar to make it easier for the Watchers to seek it out.

In other words, Elizabeth is giving 2 lamps away!

Enter the daring bloggers:

**July 1 Sue Roebuck
July 4 Charlene Wilson
July 5 S. B. Niccum
July 7 Roland Yeomans
July 8 Deirdra Coppel
July 11 Alex J. Cavanaugh
July 12 M. S. Hatch
July 13 Tristi Pinkston
July 14 Susan Gourley
July 18 Jo Schaffer
July 19 Konstanz Silverbow
July 20 Melissa Kline
July 23 Lisa Turner
July 25 J. D. Brown
July 27 & 28 Anastasia V. Pergakis
July 29 Michele Bell
July 30 Rebecca Carlson

*this is all make-believe in the spirit of my debut novel, nothing has been placed under any kind of spells and the Shadoweaver lives within the boundaries of Darkspell.

** first official Contest Saturday starts July 9th!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Believe in Magic?

Magic is an integral part of any fantasy novel.  From the beginning of civilization, people have believed in the powers of nature and their ability to appeal to those powers.  Even in today's sophisticated world of science and technology, we keep our superstitions and enjoy tales of magic and sorcery.  How many of us have 'knocked on wood' or avoided walking under a ladder? Does it give you a moment of unease when a black cat runs in front of you?

Religion and magic often become intertwined or perhaps end up at odds with each other.  What is the difference between these two powerful beliefs?  Religion is an appeal for help or an attempt to appease the gods.  Magic is the attempt to do the work of gods or perhaps force the gods to give you aid.  Is it any wonder the base conflict in many fantasy novels is about opposing religions or powerful magical beings acting like gods?
In ancient times, probably into the prehistoric, most religions we term pagan relied on natural forces to aid their magic.  Every tribe or village might have a shaman who directed behavior and sacrifices to direct the magic inherent in the earth to protect them from disease and famine. 

At some point in history, religion and magic drew battlelines and the Christian church declared most of the primitive rituals and beliefs as witchcraft.  Today few among us will admit to believing in magic and the things it can do.  Yet so many of us lap up fantasy books where magic and magical beings are the heroes and heroines though usually the bad guys use magic also.

I do believe in miracles and perhaps they are a type of magic.  I don't believe in curses though certainly bad luck exists.  Or is the bad luck just a superstition, a low form of magical belief? Do you have superstitions passed onto you by grandparents or parents?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Perfect Series Length

I read and write fantasy.  Most of the early fantasy I read had been written in three book series.  Most epic fantasy followed the standard set by Tolkien.  After all if the master could create a story the scope of The Lord of the Rings, would would anyone need to drag the story out for more than three books.  But some could argue Tolkien's saga was actually four books if you include The Hobbit.  Then along came Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series and a new idea of how long epic really is and it's not done yet, outliving even its creator.  Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series came along to challenge Jordan's record and he's still going with it.

So what is the perfect length.  I don't mind reading ten or fifteen books set in a series unless I have to wait more than half a decade for the next book in a series and if the author keeps the story tight and moving ever deeper into intrigue with escalating tensions and the fate of the world at stake.  Some can do this and some can't though I won't mention names.  On the other hand I've read three or four book epic fantasy series where I didn't even care if I finished the final book. 

My first fantasy series is four books long.  I planned it for three but the complications took longer to bring to a head than I expected when I started it.  I'm currently a book and a half into my second fantasy series and expect it to also be four books long. 

How long do you like for your book series to be as a reader or a writer?  Have you fallen out of love with a series after you'd invested time reading the early books in it?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sharing the Love

About every other month I spend a few hours on the phone talking to one of my sisters who live far, far away. One has settled on the west coast and one on the gulf coast.  We only see each other once a year and sometimes even more time goes by between visits.  When we talk, we go on and on for hours.  One of our favorite topics is books.  We all recommend new authors to each other, share our opinions on the recent works of our favorites and, of course, they mention my books.  They're always very kind. 

My sisters and I have been sharing books since we were children.  I had a favorite aunt who would give us her books when she finished with them.  Aunt Louise read mostly short Harlequin romances she bought at the grocery store.  We had no public library where we lived in the back of beyond farmlands.  Our elementary school didn't even have a library until I was in fifth grade. Each teacher kept a few shelves of battered paperbacks in her classroom.  I had a few rich friends who would share books they actually owned with me such as the original Nancy Drew books.  Once the school added the library, I think I read every fiction book shelved there.  When I moved on to high school and saw the much larger selection I knew I'd found a home.  The librarian became a good friend.  She would make sure I had first chance on all the new books when they arrived.

My children have much better access to books than I did growing up.  It's easy to share the love of books with them.  Still, I'm grateful for my friends, sisters, Aunt Louise and those wonderful school librarians for sharing their love of books with me.  The librarians are long ago retired and we lost Aunt Louise over thirty years ago but I still have those wonderful sisters and now my sons and daughter.

Who did you share books with in your early years?  Are those same people still part of your life? Are you passing the love of books on?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lightning Bolts

If you're a writer, it happens to you.  Some plot issue weighs on your mind.  Perhaps it's a relationship you need to complicate, a character you want to eliminate in a memorable fashion or an event you want to foreshadow in a clever manner.  You think about even when you don't know you are.  Then out of the blue, the solution strikes you like a lightning bolt.  You know it will work.

Driving is a time for me when my mind will dwell subconsciously on my writing.  Those lightning strikes of inspiration often find me behind the wheel.  In the summer one of the times I consciously search for inspiration is when I'm doing mindless activities like mowing the grass.  We have a good-sized property.  It takes over an hour even with a riding mower to clip all the green stuff.  Lots of time to work through the twists and turns needed to keep a reader turning the pages.

The only bad thing about ideas slapping your overburdened minds during those times is the difficulty of writing it down before you forget it.  I usually try to work out the details surrounding the lightning bolt so I don't forget the main part.  I've forgotten a few times like the time I got the tractor stuck in a wet part of the yard. 

I know some people get those flashes of inspiration as they fall asleep or dream about them.  They keep a notepad by the bed so they can write them down.  I almost never think of anything useful for my writing before I fall asleep since it usually takes me about forty seconds to drift into mindless slumber.

What about you?  When do those lightning bolts strike you?  Do you ever forget them before you can write them down?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Laugh Out Loud

I'm a very lucky mother.  My children are healthy, well-adjusted and finding their way in a complicated world. Three of my children love to read.  Two of them probably read more than I do and spend lots of their own money on books.  The three of us constantly recommend books to each other. It's fun.

My teenage daughter likes some books my son and I don't really care to read.  Sometimes she's in the same room with me, reading, when something in the book makes her laugh out loud.  I've heard her laughing when she's alone in a room.  Sometimes I've read the same book and have to wonder what she finds so funny.  It's not that something didn't amuse me, but the prose never inspires me to laughter.  Why?

Does my daughter simply have a lighter spirit than me, untouched by the dark parts of life that tarnish joy?  Perhaps she falls deeper into the fictional world of the novel and experiences the emotions shown in the story with more fully.  Or do I not laugh out loud because of the chains of inhibitions preventing such a public display of enjoyment?  Sometimes I cry reading a book but I never laugh except on the inside.

What about you? Do you laugh out loud when you read?  Can a book make you cry? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Every Day Writer?

Usually when I visit the bookstore I look at the writing magazines and skim a few articles. Usually I'm looking for ideas for marketing and promotion but often I stumble on pieces that inspire ideas for my blog posts. A few days ago I read a short article with two authors debating the pros and cons of writing everyday.

Many experts recommend writing every day. They contend you must develop the habit and treat writing like a job you must work at each day. If you combine inspiration and habit together, chances are you're going to write a lot of words each day.

The other opinion in the article I read believes in taking a day off per week. Instead of setting aside some time every day for writing, set a word count goal and get it done. Taking a day off recharges the drive and enthusiasm to write.

We all develop our own writing habits including frequency and duration of time at the keyboard. Like many people I tend to fall somewhere in between the two extremes of the above options. I don't always write new stuff every day, but I almost always work on something having to do with my career. I visit blogs, edit some work and do other general promotion things. Unless it's a special day like my recent anniversary a day seldom goes by when I don't turn on my computer.

Nearly every interview I read about really successful authors quotes them as saying they write every day. They highly recommend it.

What do you do? Write every day? Set goals and then take time off when you reach the goal? Do you feel guilty if you miss days writing?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Publisher's Websites

Like many writers, I often visit publishers' websites.  A few I visit searching for information on upcoming books from my favorite authors.  Some I visit to check out their submission policies but the ones I visit most often are the ones who have published my books.

New Concepts Publishing has released five of my romance novels under my pen name, Susan Kelley.  I love working for NCP.  Their editors are friendly and efficient.  Their author liaison replies to my emails usually within a day if not within hours.  In the past few months they've become even more author friendly by trying many new way to help with promotion, always my least favorite part of being a writer.  And I have a special place in my heart for anyone who finds a way to get my books in front of the readers.

One of the things they've done is update their website.  It's so easy to navigate, has simple buy buttons, along with forums, ongoing contests and place where readers can chat with the authors.  Each author has a page with a short bio and all their books in one spot.  My Solonian Chronicles, starting with The Greater Good and ending with One Good Woman, are showcased on my page.  Tiger's Mate will soon join the page.

So does your publisher help promote your book?  I'm especially wondering about those of you with small publishers?  Have you visited a publisher's website you found difficult to negotiate? Why do you go to publisher's websites?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Dad's Day

Here's my wish to all the fathers out there.  It's a tough job and not everyone can do it.  I think in bygone days it was easier being a father.  Before women went to work, men could come home and relax.  Many men never changed a diaper or got up in the middle of the night to take their turn with feeding the baby.  Dinner was on the table, clean clothing in the closet and the kids had their homework done.  Weekends might mean mowing the lawns or doing other chores around the house, but their biggest responsibility was bringing home the bacon.  Really, it wasn't that far removed from the days of the cavemen.  LOL

But today's dad, hopefully, takes a bigger responsibility not doing the laundry and cooking but also in raising the children.  He's more involved with his children including the moment of birth.  He can change diapers, bandage a wounded knee and attend a PTO meeting.  He reads to his children at bedtime, helps them with their homework and perhaps coaches their sports teams.  We sometimes hear about superwomen who have careers and do it all, but we also have lots of supermen.

I was a lucky girl growing up.  We lived on a farm so my dad was home all the time.  Despite getting up at 4:00AM to milk the cows, he still had the energy to pass baseball with his tomboy daughter.  In the winter he played board games with us and as often as not helped my mom with the cooking.  He lectured my brothers on keeping the bathroom spotless and would pitch in and help my mother with the laundry when he had time.  He remodeled our farmhouse and taught me most of what I know about powertools.  We all learned to drive the big tractors, milk the cows and butcher(yuchy) hogs, chickens and wild game.  My brothers had to take their turns with the dishes the same as the girls did.  My dad taught me more about equality than any textbook or other life experience.  He was my hero.  He was also a real WWII hero.  My hometown honored him and many others of his generation with banners flying from the light posts of the river walk. 

My father never finished high school.  He dropped out to enlist and fight during WWII.  But he loved to read.  He kept a dictionary by his reading chair so he could look up words he didn't know.  He loved to learn.  I miss him every day.  Happy Father's Day to the best.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sorry I didn't visit many blogs this weekend, but yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our wedding aniversary.  Our children now that they are older have started a tradition of all day game day for our aniversary.  It's kind of like a family reunion with a ladder ball tournament, swimming, cards, basketball shooting contests, and lots of food.  It's exhausting and completely fun.  So that's where I've been.  I'll also be out of town later this week when my husband and I go away for two days alone.

Our aniversay was a distraction or an excuse for not writing or blogging, but it's very easy to get distracted by many other things especially when working on a computer.  Facebook, twitter even blog hopping can take up valuable and limited writing time.  All this reminds me a program you can download called SelfControl which can be set to shut down your email and social network for a chosen period of time.  Really?

I confess to procrastination.  I admit to visiting blogs when I should be working on that WIP.  And I do check out Facebook when I shouldn't.  But I can control it.  I don't need a special program to look over my shoulder and 'control' my activities.  Have you heard of this?  Would you use something like this? 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heroes Must be Heroic

I recently watched a 'made for TV' movie.  I looked forward to it because I enjoy watching the actor staring in the movie in all his roles and I love the books the movie character is based upon.  Well, I was extremely disappointed.  I kept waiting for something to happen.  Not only did the story progress at a snail's pace but the star of the show didn't do anything.  Mostly he stared into his coffee or drank himself insensible.  Not very heroic.

Whether it's a book or a movie, we like our heroes and heroines to act heroically.  As a writer of a book or a screen play, we must give our main character a chance to be heroic.  There are classic ways to act like a hero.  One of my favorites is when the hero or heroine sacrifices their dream, maybe their life, or their career for the greater good of the world or their family or whatever community is at stake.  I even titled one of my books for that very scenario.

And who won't love a hero who stands up for the oppressed or the helpless.  Isn't the world a better place with such people?

Sometimes it's heroic simply to turn the other cheek and take the high road.  Sometimes being the one who doesn't strike back is admirable.

The best books or movies are those that find creative ways to make the hero act in a way to draw the reader into wanting this person to succeed.  We cheer for people we like.   We hope we would act like them in the same situation whether it's to save the world or our family or even slay vampires.

So remember when you're writing to give your hero a way to be heroic.  Give them opponents or situations where they must be that person we all wish to be.  Endless cups of coffee or liquor isn't heroic or interesting.

What plot is your favorite to showcase a hero's brave heart?  Do you prefer the emotional or physical call to arms to define your hero?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time Goes By

Some of you know I'm a high school teacher.  Today is the last day of school.  Yippee!!!  I always set goals for the summer about my writing.  Big plans.  Last year was the first time I came close to meeting those goals.  But I still dream big.

Things do distract me during the summer.  All those cleaning projects, a big yard to take care of, a swimming pool to enjoy and that tempting stack of books to read, combine to steal hours from my writing time.  Well, it's not really stealing since I allow myself to spend those hours so pleasantly. 

Despite all those distractions, I wonder why I accomplish more during my limited hours when school is in session than over the summer months when I don't have to do the day job thing.  Why? Is it because I believe I have tons of time so I put things off?  Does this prove I would struggle to be a full time writer because I can't manage my time?  If true, there's goes my retirement plans.

Well, I have some big plans for this summer and I'm digging in as soon as I get the tanbark spread, sand the deck and .... No this year I'm putting writing closer to the top of the list.  I have one huge project going and two medium ones and a couple of smaller ones.  I'll reveal them as I delve into them. 

I was always the child who wrote their term paper the night before it was due.  I know I do good work under pressure.  What about you? Do you work better when you have nearly unlimited time or are you a 'work under pressure' type? Do you need a deadline to keep you on task?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who Has the Mo...?

People do things for a reason.  Sometimes they fool themselves as to the why, but something motivates people to their actions.  The characters if a novel also have to have a reason to act the way they do.  Something motivates them.

As often as not and usually in my novels, the hero is motivated by his values.  He decides something must be done, a goal reached, on what he believes from his values.  He might believe something not obviously true to the rest of the world or his family and friends but completely true to him.  His values may lead him to fight an unwinable war or attempt great feats of strength or bravery.  Often he desires something abstract that he can't even pinpoint to himself, such as redemption or revenge. 

The hero should certainly face many obstacles between him and his goal, but he never gives up though his despair may lead him astray or make him hesitate.  The attempt to complete the thing that will help him reach his goal drives the story.  Perhaps he wants peace for his world so he must defeat the demonic race over running his people.  Many YA dystopian novels have survival as the the hero's only goal although it's usually survival for the hero's family also.  That's a pretty strong motivation to propel the hero through a great story.

What's your favorite hero motivation?  Have you read novels where the motivation doesn't seem strong enough to drive the hero and story forward?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Back in the Breach

I've been absent from the blogosphere for a while.  The reasons are many though most of them are more like excuses.  Things like my daughter's softball playoffs, the chaotic end of a school year, some days of good weather when I could actually work outside, an ill get my drift.  Excuses.

My daughter's team was eliminated from the state playoffs two days ago with a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to a very good team.  I still have three days of school but I have nearly all my paper work done.  Thanks to some help from my daughter, I'm getting caught up with the outside work.  The cat is still a problem. 

So no more excuses.  I'll be blogging 3-4 days a week again starting today.  Despite my excuses for being absent here, I know the real reason.  I was feeling down about my writing career.  I'm not entirely back on the upbeat trail now, but I'm not very good at quitting when things get rough.  It took me a few weeks to get over being angry about something and come up with a game plan to get my career traveling in the direction I want it to go.  More about the anger in a future blog.

I'll be around to visit my bloggy friends today and tomorrow.  I hope some of them will stop in here too.  Though I haven't been blogging lately, I have been working on my WIP and can see 'The End' approaching.  A few more weeks like this past week and I'll be ready to send it off to my favorite editor at NCP.

How long have you taken a break for blogging?  Did you have good reason or did you just need a break?