Sunday Surprise

redemption-final-smallREDEMPTION – A Many Lives Standalone Story
One of the best books I read this year. A tightly-woven tale of what it means to be redeemed by love ★★★★★” – Margo Bond Collins, NY Times bestselling author.
From New York Times bestselling author, Laxmi Hariharan, comes REDEMPTION the much anticipated next standalone story in the Many Lives Series. For fans of Nalini Singh and Christine Feehan. Experience a thrilling paranormal romance where shifters, vampires and immortals fight to save those they love.
Read REDEMPTION free in KU * 99c for limited only * here
When differences threaten to tear fated mates apart
I submit to no one—not even him.
Not till I was taken
Now a terrible emptiness tears me apart. For,
he’s just…gone
Will I see him again?
I never needed anyone
Then I met her, a cage fighter, my shifter. Mine.
The one I must protect
Now I want her. In my life, in my blood.
Her, only her.
Reclusive designer Mikhail Anton blames wolf-shifters for his memory loss, refusing to accept the signs that he is immortal. On meeting Leana Iyeroy, a cage-fighter and shifter, Mikhail is drawn to her in ways he can’t identify. And when vampires threaten Leana, he must acknowledge his abilities to rescue her from certain death. They must team up to save their city– before their differences destroy everything they love.
Read REDEMPTION free in KU & 99c for limited time here

Hastings 1066 Fortnight

And last but not least the lady who started it all! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Steph Bennion!

Where do you live and write from?

I quit the big bad city of London last year and moved to Hastings on England’s south coast, so you can blame me for the idea of writing themed stories about the eponymous battle. This part of Sussex is known as ‘1066 Country’ and as you might expect there are all sorts of events planned to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Why do you write?

I write stories to scratch the itch that is the urge to create, but also with the hope that readers will be entertained! A big part of it is to pass on the love for the stories I read in my youth: books by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein and the other masters of science fiction.

When did you start writing?

I started writing and submitting short stories to various publications when I was in my teens, albeit with erratic success, so I’ve been at it for thirty years now. My first few novels were truly terrible and now live in a darkened drawer somewhere. I came close to giving up writing fiction and for a while concentrated on music instead (I was a songwriter and bassist in a weird folk-rock band), but then had an idea for a tongue-in-cheek adult fantasy novella which I managed to sell to a niche publisher. That royalty cheque gave me the boost I needed to persevere.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write mainly space opera on the hard sci-fi side, for young adults and adults young at heart. My Hollow Moon novels centre around working-class folk who find themselves battling the consequences of upheavals caused by those in power; stories of friendships and how people come together in times of need. I read a lot of science fiction and have a fondness for planet-hopping tales that keep the human element firmly in focus, preferably with a few spaceships thrown in. Science fiction at its best takes contemporary issues and shines new light on them outside their normal context, all against a background of adventure, mystery, humour and thrills. What more could you want?

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I like to inject a dose of humour into my writing – not in a ‘comic novel’ way in the vein of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the Space Captain Smith books, but space opera is often so overblown I find it hard to resist poking fun at science-fiction tropes or turning a plot device on its head. I like to think it makes the space opera I write a little bit different. What I will say is that comedy is deceptively hard to write.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My main goal is to complete the Hollow Moon series; by my latest reckoning there’s at least another two or three novels to write before the main story arc is concluded. I’m sure I’ll be distracted by other writing projects along the way…

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Writing is a craft that can be learned: it’s important to read widely and study the masters. Oh, and don’t give up the day job…

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

The Battles Of Hastings is taken from the journal of a headstrong young time traveller who, after she and fellow time travellers realise they each come from a future with a different past, embarks on a journey through multiple realities to try and put history right. While I was researching the events of 1066 it struck me how incredibly close King Harold of England came to winning the battle. Exploring this through a tale of parallel universes seemed the obvious way to go. The challenge for me as a science-fiction writer was that the second law of thermodynamics pretty much prohibits time travel into the past, but I still wanted to offer an explanation of how a time machine might work.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Time-traveller Jane Kennedy, the narrator of The Battles Of Hastings, also features in an unpublished novella of mine called Catastrophe Jane, which is set in an alternate-history version of my native Black Country during the industrial revolution. I never got to grips with the time-travel science in this earlier work and so put it to one side, but writing The Battles Of Hastings resolved many of the issues I had with this so hopefully there will be more of Jane’s adventures to come. I’m also tentatively outlining a synopsis for book four of my Hollow Moon series, as well as the usual festive tale for December. The seasonal short stories are generally sci-fi spoofs of classic fairy tales and a lot of fun to write!


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Martin Rinehart part 1

Barb: I’m away, so I’m leaving the blog in good hands! I want you all to welcome Martin Rinehart, author of the forthcoming Explicitly Sexy books. Tell us about your books.

Martin: It’s really just one novel. The story of three married women who want to have honeymoon-strength marriages. They meet after aerobics, twice a week for cocktails and girl talk, usually about their relationships, often about their sex lives. It’s about 240,000 words. A trilogy in print, an heptalogy in ebooks.

Barb: You were telling me about your characters writing their own dialog. Care to elaborate?

Martin: My first try I realized my characters were all talking the same way. I had about a third of a full-length novel but I threw it out. Took each character out for a nice long lunch and really focused on the way she spoke. Tried again. It was better.

After they each started speaking in their own voices I began getting the strange feeling that my characters were writing their own dialog. They were talking to each other and not paying much attention to me. I posted about this in a writers’ forum. The response was overwhelmingly, “Me too!” Seems that some characters will openly revolt and spoil your plot. “No,” she said, “I’d never do that. I’m not that type.”

Barb: So could I interview your characters?

Martin: Sure. Why don’t you talk to them right after the end of the novel. That ends on Friday, June 17, 2005. They’ll probably want to get together again the following Tuesday.

Barb: Unfortunately I’m not the one who is able to jump around time and space and chat with characters. It’s Samantha who does the interviews for this blog. So I shall let her take over if you don’t mind. And since it’s a nice long chat, let’s spread it out throughout the week, shall we?

Coming next: interview with the Explicitly Sexy heroines part 1 and part 2.

Martin’s book if you’d like an ARC.

Sunday Surprise

Hi guys,

I’m Samantha and I come from another world – the original, old Silvery Earth, where people are immortal and never grow up. When I’m not switching bodies at will, I travel to other universes, especially books or movies. That’s how I met Rajveer the vampire, for example!

So, I’m taking over the interviews on this blog! And here I am, meeting people from other books/universes/whatever!

RC coverWelcome, guest! Tell me a little about yourself!

Hi, my name is Zahara Bakur. I’m fifteen years old, and I’m from New York City. I’m a Sunni Muslim, and I’m supposed to be entering my senior year of high school, but…well, things are complicated right now.

I don’t know why, but things on Earth are always complicated… *snort* Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Average height and weight, light-brown skin, blonde hair (it used to be brown). Sorry, that’s longer than ten words, isn’t it?

It’s fine, you’re the first teen who doesn’t use twitter English! *grin* Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how did they become an enemy?

Um…I don’t really have anyone I would call my enemy. I mean, there are people I don’t like, but who doesn’t have someone like that? I guess if I did have an enemy though, it would probably be ignorance and bigotry. Ever since before the war, people have this tendency to believe the worst things about my faith, that we’re all out to kill ourselves and everyone around us. That’s simply not true, but I’ve had a heck of a time convincing people of that. So I guess that’s my answer.

People can be very nasty with someone who is even slightly different! Would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?

Kill?! Allah, no! I’m the least nonviolent person ever, and I really don’t believe in the death penalty. But if I had to die for those I love…well, I’d rather that not happen, but if it was the only way and I really cared for someone, I guesss I might.

You’re great! Where do you live(world/town/whatever)?

I used to live in New York City, but then my dad got a job in Reborn City and we moved there. We had a house in South Reborn, but these days I’m staying in West Reborn with the Hydras. I think it’s the safest place for me, truth be told. I know they’re gangsters, but they watch out for me, which is more than what I can say for anyone in South Reborn.

Interesting town name… Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

Relationship? Er, not anymore. I-I had a boyfriend in New York, but we broke up before I moved. And I’ve been too busy to really think about that sort of stuff since I got to Reborn City.

VR CS front coverA most interesting place, I’m sure! What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?

Well, because of…certain reasons, I had to join the Hydras, a gang in West Reborn. I’m not gangster material, not at all, and I really hate the lifestyle, but until I pay my debt to Rip, the leader of my Head—that’s like a gang branch—I can’t leave. So I guess it’s just surviving the lifestyle day to day and trying to fulfill my debt, though how I do that I’m not sure.

Mmm… I’m sure you can manage… Do you have a family? Tell me about them.

*cries* I’m sorry, but…I just recently lost my mother and father, and I have no other family. As much as I hate to admit it, the West Reborn Hydras are the only family I have right now, so…*shrugs* It is what it is.

Family is family whether you chose it or it chose you! Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

*sniff*I don’t really have unusual about me. I guess I should go with the fact that I’m only fifteen (I’ll turn sixteen in September), but I’m already a senior in high school. I should be going to college next year, though with my life the way it is, who knows?

What 2 or 3 questions do you wish I’d asked and what are your answers to them?

Um…I don’t know. I really don’t talk about myself like this. I’m just kind of flattered that anyone wants to talk to me about anything. Thanks, by the way. I really appreciate it.

You are very welcome! I wish you all the best!


Where do you find this character

Reborn City:






Video Rage:






Random Friday

Since I gave up on the challenge that should have ended today (started April 1, end should have been April 8) and spring is killing me (cool mornings hot lunch times, gaaaaaah), I thought I’d just sort of pass. About Kaylyn update, I’m about 17K in and the plot keeps changing under me, so I don’t think I’ll manage to finish it by the weekend, but hopefully by next week yes.

Just an announcement for a reading Friday. Grab this bundle while you can, it’s shorter reads (between 10K and 35K I’m told) that can keep you company when you have a short trip. And now I’m leaving you with the words of others – words of wisdom, writers on writing, call them what you want. I’m already tired from typing this, so I better use my energies to take Kaylyn to her next destination. Have a great weekend!


Things change in this industry every day.  If you’re like me, you probably find it bewildering at times.  But take heart.  Some things never change.  The most important thing that will never change is that books are magical containers for delivering stories and knowledge.  You create magic.
The industry will change – players will go out of business and others will rise and fall and rise again – but books will always remain.  Authors will always remain.  You are the captain of your personal adventure in publishing, and the course you chart is rife with opportunity.
Luck plays a factor as well, but only for those who implement best practices first.  Best practices prepare you to capture lightning in a bottle when luck strikes.  Luck strikes all the time.  It’s word of mouth.  It’s a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook mention or a review that recommends your book.
The books you have in you are important. Your books are important to the future of book culture and humanity.  Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from putting your book out into the world.

Mark Coker

But if you want a career as a writer, if you don’t want to have a day job, if you only want to write, then it seems to me the safest path to take is the indie path. You’ll have more opportunity. You can work hard and publish a lot and make money doing so.
Will every indie writer make six-figures per year? Hell, no. Nor will every traditionally published writer. But what this particular Author Earnings report shows is that if you want the chance of making six-figures or more per year with your writing, the best publishing path is indie.
(Provided you continue to learn your craft, are a damn fine storyteller, have excellent covers, do the right amount of marketing… and on and on and on.)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I made a comment at some point over the last few days that bothered a number of people. I said I could always tell if a person was going to make it. I did not mean in their storytelling skills. I meant in their drive and persistence.
Anyone can learn how to tell a good story. Persistence over years is impossible to teach.

Making choices to write is always a key indicator. How often do you make the choice to write when others are doing something that sounds like fun?
Dean Wesley Smith

(On getting to the typewriter)… “For me, a lot of times the real barrier to get to work – to get to the typewriter or the word processor – comes before I get there. I had one of those days today where I thought to myself: “I’m not sure if I can do this.” I have a lot of days like that. I think it’s kind of funny really, that people think: “Well, you’re Stephen King, that doesn’t happen to you,” as if I wasn’t really the same as everybody else.”

Stephen King

In the past year, I’ve had so many friends feel burned out. Tapped out. Done. Finished. Writing became this chore that they had to do to keep up with… what? Financial obligations. Reader expectations. Personal goals….

When I start to get burned out, it’s usually because I haven’t had enough creative time. It’s because I’m focusing on the publishing and selling aspects of this business and not on the writing parts. I NEED the writing. It’s still my most-fun-thing. My escape. My happy place.

Elizabeth Hunter

Sunday Surprise

Hi guys,

I’m Samantha and I come from another world – the original, old Silvery Earth, where people are immortal and never grow up. When I’m not switching bodies at will, I travel to other universes, especially books or movies. That’s how I met Rajveer the vampire, for example!

So, I’m taking over the interviews on this blog! And here I am, meeting people from other books/universes/whatever!

Soo! Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Dii – Dii’Athella is the longer version. It’s elven. I’m told it means Flower of the Dawn. I’m about twenty-five summers – although I don’t know my exact age. I was taken from my true mother as an infant and given to a human family. They did not take me to raise me as their own, I was a Kept – a slave. I’m an elf – elves have no rights, no liberty, no justice in Eranan law.

Ugh. I already hate your world. Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Female, red hair, tattoos, elven, midnight blue eyes.

Lovely! Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how did they become an enemy?

My Keeper Joset Tremayne. He’s the one who stole me from my mother’s arms. Although I do not know how my mother ended up in the Enclave. Joset used me….Please do not ask me the details. Let’s just say he’s very unpleasant, he’s cruel and unfeeling. He beats all his servants and slaves. By law he does nothing wrong. I was property – to be treated as he wished but surely property does not think, does not feel or hurt.

I am a sorceress – which made me doubly forbidden. The Order of Witch-Hunters rule the land, and by their law magic is illegal. Anyone caught using it can be taken and imprisoned or executed. There is no trial – I think that’s what you call it in your land. Magic is just there, it infuses the land, some people are born with it. Magic does not know it’s forbidden. How can it be forbidden – it just is. Like the sky, the sun, the moon and the gods.

I know exactly what you mean. I do have my own share of magic people of other worlds don’t understand. Would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?

Yes. And yes.

So tell me more about your world.

I now live in Tremellic, which is a valley community at the far edge of Erana. The Jagged Peak mountains look upon us and the Shimmering Forest guards our border.

Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

Lord Archos. He is kind, clever, powerful and charming. He’s an excellent lover, a courageous fighter and a shrewd businessman. He is also a mage, our magic met and now we are more powerful together. He loves me for what I am, what I was, and what I can be.

Sounds like a dream man! What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?


I get a lot of answers like that, I wonder why… Do you have a family? Tell me about them.

Archos is my family, and his friend Olek. Olek is like the brother I never really had. Ozena lives with us too. She’s an elven huntress from a local elven community which was destroyed by slavers. It’s nice to have a female companion about the manor. My Keeper had a son – Ulric – who was sometimes kind to me. Mostly he was his father’s son and could not see me as anything more than a pretty dalliance, someone to warm his bed. He cared for his own pleasure, and the honour of their house. He was not a man. He was a child, and a petulant one at that.

Most men are – I think it’s called Peter Pan syndrome somewhere… Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I have a tattoo which spirals from my cheek to my thigh.

Whoa, neat! What 2 or 3 questions do you wish I’d asked and what are your answers to them?

Oh gods, I do not know. Perhaps why I visit the Enclave in Varlek when I know it is a terrible place?

Varlek, one of the largest cities has an elven Enclave. I suppose in your world it would be called a ghetto. All elves must live there – unless they live in the house of their masters. It’s a terrible place, there is much disease and poverty. The Enclave is another tool of the Order of Witch-Hunters – to keep the humans and elves apart. Highlight our differences you might say. Elves and men are really not that different, there are a few cosmetic differences – elves have different ear shapes, we are slightly smaller and our features more pronounced. But elves and humans can interbreed – any child thereof is classed as a half-elf and subject to the restrictions of all elves. Even if it’s father is a lord of the land. Why did we visit the Enclave? Ozena’s sister was taken from Szendro, and often such elves end up in the Enclave, the slave markets or worse. As it happened the elves we found were not of Szendro. That’s another story – and you must read my adventures to find out who they are.

I’d not dare to enter the Enclave alone, but some humans do feel pity for the elves and bring medicine or extra food. Officially it’s not allowed but a starving, sick elf cannot work and besides disease can spread to the humans. The Witch-Hunter guards turn their eyes away if the payment is large enough. Money can buy freedom, of a sort. Or at least pity and mercy.

Archos tells me it depends on the particular guards – some turn aside. Others do not. Some of the merchants pay to the temple. The priestesses are allowed in the Enclave to give alms, bring herbs and prayers. I suppose it keeps order. Vestiges of the old religions linger and not even the Order often dare to defy the gods. It’s more, I think, they ignore it, or perhaps feel that angering the gods helps no one.

Any mage knows the gods are real, or at least were. Many do not walk the lands now, the magic is not as Powerful as once it was and so although the beliefs do linger they are often not strong. Do I believe? Yes, of course. When one has nothing but hatred and fear one looks beyond the mortal for hope. The gods are there, getting their attention – that’s another matter entirely.

Another question? What are my hopes for the future? I’m an elf – and even within Tremellic where elves are treated well it’s hard to believe we will ever be truly free. For now the Witch-Hunters ignore Tremellic – Archos pays vast bribes to keep it so but the more we interfere the more likely they are to come. My hopes for the future are to live with the man I love, and to be safe and happy. I hope for the elves to be free, but I know that is a dangerous hope. We cannot simply sit back and do nothing but for every elf we save, for every mage we help the risk of Order ‘pacification’ increases. My hopes are that we live to see another sun rise, another moon rise. I will say this – despite my fear I will never again become a prisoner of the Order. I will live as freely as I can or die trying. The Order think they rule this land, think they rule magic. Magic does not agree.

Well, thank you for your time, Dii’. I see we have another guest… Tell me a little about yourself, my good lord.

Ulric Tremayne, son of Lord Joset Tremayne of Reldfield. I am heir to the lands, and all its chattels. I am twenty-five or so. Really does it matter? As yet there is no Lady Tremayne. My mother is father’s…concubine. She is a mage – but that is of no matter. In our lands she has protection. Have I a wife? Not yet, I do not need the burden of a wife and my father is still young enough to have many years left to him and perhaps if he takes another mistress there will be another son.

I like the company of women. I am the master’s son and so if I command they warm my bed. Then there is Dii. Such a sweet creature, poor soul. But of course she’s a Kept. Property. I suppose Mama is too, if I think about it. There is no point in taking Dii as any more than the whore she is – any offspring would be half-elven bastards. Dii brings me pleasure but it can never be more than that. Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Black hair, young and handsome.

What is your role in the story?

I’m the son of Lord Joset Tremayne. When Dii runs away I go to seek her. Father has a temper, he does not treat her kindly and so if I can return her to the household I may be able to pacify him. Dii is his prize Kept, she has certain….skills, and charms. Dii brings us a goodly amount of coin. Besides it is dangerous world for a young elven woman. Dii knows nothing of it. She is safer within our house.

What is your relationship with the protagonist?

I suppose you could almost say Dii is my foster sister. Mama certainly tries to treat her as a daughter. My mother had a true born daughter once – stillborn. I don’t recall her, I was either very young or not yet born. I try and tell mother Dii is just a Kept, an elf but it doesn’t help. I worry for them both. Father could easily end his protection and Mama would have nothing, perhaps end in the Enclave prison, or worse. Dii is an elf and a mage. The Order do not look kindly on her type.

Where do you live(world/town/whatever)?

I live in Reldfield. It’s a town West of Jaeden and the city. We have other holdings but that is where my father chooses to reside.

Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

I can take any girl I choose in the household or from among the Kepts. Dii is my favourite but I am a young man, I take my pleasures where I wish.

What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?

Finding Dii. The foolish girl ran from our protection. You’d not think it so hard to find one red-haired elven girl but she’s clever. She finds herself a protector. Dii has something about her, an allure. Many men find her irresistible.

Do you have a moral code?

I wish to protect the honour of the House of Tremayne, and of course our interests. I don’t think I’m cruel but well, elves are elves aren’t they? The law is the law.

Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I have an attraction towards red-haired women, but I can’t think why.

*to herself* Glad I’m a brunette! *back to Ulric* What 2 or 3 questions do you wish I’d asked and what are your answers to them?

What will I do with Dii when I find her?

I’ll bring her home. I know she fears my father but I’m sure I can placate him. At least I think so.

What do I think of the Order of Witch-Hunters?

They can be….heavy handed at times. I mean one hears stories but rumours are just that rumour. Erana can’t be an easy land to rule – there are many factions after all. They leave us alone – in fact now I think of it some of my father’s cronies wear the colours of the Order. It helps to sweeten them, after all my mother is a mage. I try and stay out of their way but I know mother and Dii fear them. The law is the law.


LBTS Book IThese characters appear in Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series – an adult fantasy/fantasy romance series, with a touch of erotica.

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I

In a dark world where magic is illegal and elves are enslaved a young elven sorceress runs for her life from the house of her evil Keeper. Pursued by his men and the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters she must find sanctuary. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.

Available as an e-book in all the Amazon stores, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and the Smashwords associate stores.

Also available as a paperback on Createspace and Amazon.

Audio Book


More info on the author’s website

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! He’s author of the month on Goodreads, so if you don’t have enough with these, go ask him questions on the Smashwords Authors group as well! He’s just completed NaNoWriMo! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Albert Yates!

Where do you live and write from?
I live and write from Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada. It’s the part of Canada attached to Maine. Not the one to the north of Maine, that’s Quebec. We’re over to the east. I grew up in a little fishing community on almost the furthest point east in Nova Scotia. I think I got a lot of my creative energy growing up there, some of the more famous Celtic musicians all grew up in the same area I did.
Why do you write?
I love to read and I want to create a story or series that I would want people to read and get excited about. I’ve come across so many book series that once I start I have to finish immediately. Those are the types books that I want to write.
When did you start writing?
I have always written stories, growing up I would write little stories as part of my homework assignments. I did not write anything of substantial size until after I finished university when I wrote a few short stories.
What genre(s) do you write?
I write traditionally horror. I’ve done a couple of suspense short stories when I was in university but I enjoy finding ways to terrify myself when I’m writing.
What does your writing routine consist of?
My routine is something like this:
  • turn on computer open up current manuscript
  • open web browser and click through a few pages of reddit
  • find playlist or band that I think will want to listen to
  • re-read the last couple of paragraphs that I wrote
  • go back to reddit and see if there’s anything new
  • type away on the keyboard
When I really want to get some writing done I have to turn off the WiFI on my computer so that I just stay off the internet altogether.
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I would have to say that building the characters in my stories is one of my strengths, or finding creative ways for some one to meet their end.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find inspiration in what scares or worries me. If I find something sending chills down my spine thinking about it then that’s going to have the same effect on someone else which is the ultimate goal.
I’ve never put myself in my stories, I might take something from my life and use that as the basis for something that I write, but I’ve never named a character after myself.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
With my latest book, that I started the first of November to coincide with NaNoWriMo I tried to be an outliner. I had a grand plan that covered 31 chapters for my book. By the end of my 2nd week of writing I was so frustrated with writing that I couldn’t see past the next plot point that I had written down. I was constantly going back to the outline to see what I was supposed to be doing.  The last 3 days of November I abandonded my plan and managed to throw down 12,000 words with little problem.
When I’m in the mood to be writing I’m a fast writer. I take all of the thoughts in my head and splatter them all over my keyboard. I’m a programmer by trade so I’m a very skilled typist, which isn’t something you hear most programmers bragging about.
Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)
I have one book published currently about how one man’s life changes when the world starts to die around him. Everyone thinks that they’d be a survivor if something like this happened in real life, some would survive longer than others based on chance and circumstance more than anything.
The world has become a different place since Henry woke up this morning and decided to go for a run on his treadmill. His neighbour seems to be acting strange, no one is working at the radio station, and the 911 operator rushed him off the phone when he called. What happened to his town while he was sleeping and will Henry be able to survive the dangers that lie outside of his house?
It could use a little polish since I’ve learned so much from working on my current story.
I’m currently writing the sequel to this book, there will likely be a few more after this as well, which follows Henry and his small group of survivors as they deal with their greatest challenge: other survivors. I want the book to show the real struggle that would happen if the dead rose from their graves, how people interact and treat one another. I think the struggle to deal with the freedom from rules, lack of oversight and fear from police really will play a big part in how the world deals with such an event.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie publishing. I like the freedom of setting my own deadlines, writing about topics that I enjoy without having to worry if the publisher even will print what I come up with. That might not be the case any more, but that is what I have in my mind what dealing with a publisher is like. I also wanted to make my book available for free. As a new author I wanted as many people as possible to access my book, I feel the exposure for it is the greatest reward.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
I always have a few stories and ideas floating around in the back of my mind. Once I finish this series I plan on expanding some of the stories I wrote a couple of years ago. One is an homage to 80s slasher movies which is probably where everyone gets their start in scary movies.
I would love to create a collection of short stories. There is more freedom to do something small and satisfying with a smaller story than when you have to keep the pace going in a longer work like a novel. Writing a story based on a thought that you had while driving down the road will get the creative juices going sooner and might allow you to expand it into something bigger later. Those have been some of my favourite books, whenever Stephen King puts out a new book it always ends up on my To-Read list, but when that book is a collection of stories, it goes right to the top of the list.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal as a writer, right now, is to create a world that people can get lost in. A world that they’ll want to come back to again and tell all of their friends about it.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t know that I was ever given any advice about writing other than the notes and commendations that my professors in university gave me from my essays when I turned them in. As a computer science student I took a number of history and sociology courses that did not have tests but essays for grading, my professors were always impressed with my papers and it did mean a lot to me at the time.
For my final assignment in my Computer Science degree I did have to do a research paper and presentation, my advisor at the time was the Dean of the faculty who gave me a great grade on my report.
Where to find him:

Sunday Surprise

Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it… here’s some food for thought! Have a great Sunday!

What most writers need is to believe in their own work. The writers need to finish a first draft, spellcheck it, and hand it to a trusted first reader who is not a writer.

Let me repeat that. The last thing you want is a writer as your first reader.

A writer will critique. A reader will tell you if the book is a good read or not.

Will the reader be able to tell you how to fix the book? Hell, no. That’s not a reader’s job.

Generally, if the book fails, especially in areas like pacing, then the best thing the writer can do is start over. From scratch. Without looking at the previous manuscript.

Because we’re storytellers, not writers. A manuscript is the coded tool that we use to tell stories across great distances.

Kris Rusch

I get a lot of questions about how I write so much. (And takes weeks at a time off as I am doing now.) My response lately has been that I never look back. I never fix or rewrite. I do the best job I can do when writing a story or novel, then when a story or novel is done, it is done. Period.

I march forward and move to the next story or novel. So while others get a few books done because of all the rewriting and trying to make a book perfect, I get a dozen simply because I am stepping forward all the time. I write clean and the best I can the first time through.

So I will repeat my general answer to various questions about what to do with old work, meaning finished work.

When in doubt, write the next story.

Dean Wesley Smith

Q: So how do we survive this awful situation?
Joe sez: Easy.
1. Write good books. Books that readers love. Books they recommend to others.
2. Experiment. Try new things. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
3. Innovate. Start your own ebook company. Certainly some of you have ideas. Go do something about it.
4. Share what you know. That’s the point of life. Learning is only half the equation, you also have to pass it along so others can benefit.
If you don’t like how the way things are, do it yourself, and do it better.
Now I’m going to go back to writing. I suggest you do the same.

Joe Konrath

I want to wake up one morning and know how to write page one, or page 10, or page 250. But I never seem to know how to do it. Every book is different and takes a different structure, style, process, etc. And relearning how to write is where the insanity comes from.

– Sarah MacLean

True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read

– Pliny the elder

The more you reason the less you create.
Raymond Chandler

Sunday Surprise

unnamedAnd it’s a guest! From the Ink Slingers Halloween Anthology but he was also in last year’s anthology! When I read “Travelers”, I thought I wanted to know more about the guy, but look, almost a year went by and… he did it again! His “Tigress Lizzy” gave me the right chills at the right times… so go grab your copy right now! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rami Ungar!

Where do you live and write from?

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio, though for the past two and a half months I’ve been living and working as an intern with the US Army in Wiesbaden, Germany. As to where I write, anyplace I can plug in my laptop and let my creative juices flow, whether that be at home, in a café, a library, or even in the office when there’s nothing going on (rare moments, I tell you).

Why do you write?

I think I started writing because I loved Harry Potter and I wanted to write something just as awesome, if not more. After a while it became something I really loved doing. It still is something I love to do, but with my brain now trained to come up with as many ideas as possible—and I have several a week, so you can imagine how they pile up after a while—it acts as a sort of exorcism, getting these tales out of my head and onto paper. I just wish I had more time do these exorcisms, but that’s life!

57a04-strange2bportalsWhen did you start writing?

Somewhere between age five and eight, I think. I remember seeing Harry Potter—or maybe I read it, I can’t remember which came first—but I was entranced by Harry and Hogwarts and magic. And it all came from a single book! There was the real magic, and I wanted to be able to do the same thing. The result was that I started writing. First it was my own versions of Harry Potter, then it was my own original works. Around age ten I decided that writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, though every now and then I entertained being a mad scientist.

What genre(s) do you write?

I mostly write horror stories, though I do science fiction and thrillers as well. Stephen King’s really the one responsible for that: I read IT and wanted to write stories to rival his more than I wanted to write stories that rival JK Rowling’s. I’m definitely not there yet, but I like to think I’m on the way.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I don’t really have a writing routine. My life’s too crazy for one, so whenever I have the time, I plug in some tunes and try to get out as much as possible. Depending on a number of factors, it can be a little or a lot. Just as long as I get something out, all’s well with me.

5a3e9db116168bd2d61f13037216dc667ed9a2b1What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I like to think I’ve got a good grasp of dialogue, thanks to lots of practice and plenty of critiques from readers and fellow writers. I also like to think I’m good at putting a scary or creepy spin on any subject or situation, which can lead to all sorts of ideas. Though that latter skill makes me wonder about my sanity sometimes…

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I think authors get inspiration from everywhere, and I’m no exception. From stories I read, from conversations I have or sights I see (I get a lot of that last one here in Germany). Occasionally I do put myself in my stories, or at least shades of myself, characters with bits of me in them. I guess part of me wants a more exciting life than I already have, or I just like having a giggle because I’m the only one who knows that that character is based on me. Who knows?

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Definitely an outliner, I like to have a plan or a direction to go in, though occasionally I write by the seat of my pants just to see where I end up. As for fast or slow, it depends on what you consider fast or slow. A short story can take a month, while a novel can take six to eight months, depending on circumstances. And those are the just the first drafts!

e5401a30f49ac8500a1bedd1f41315a54f9b7007Tell us about your latest book

Snake was published last year in June. It’s a thriller with horror overtones, about a serial killer hunting members of a powerful mafia family in order to save the woman he loves. It’s pretty dark and violent stuff, but I had an absolute ball writing it. There was a lot of influence from slasher films and the suspense novels I was deep into when I wrote it. If anyone loves that sort of stuff, they might like Snake.

Amazon and Smashwords.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I’m an indie writer. I tried the traditional route, but I found not a lot of publishers and agencies were taking on new clients. Impatient, eager to see myself in print, and hearing about friends of mine finding success in self-publishing, I decided to try it out. The results that I ended up liking having full control and creative freedom. It’s lead to so many opportunities for me, and I’m glad I did it.

478f1e69890369ad9d44b500fcae9b85f2d765a5Any other projects in the pipeline?

Oh have I! I’m at varying stages of the editing process for three different novels, and I’m putting together a new collection of short stories. I’m also producing an audio book for one of my novels, provided I can find a narrator for it. No idea when I’ll get them all out, but I hope to have that answer soon.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

Boy, that’s changed over the years! At first I wanted to be a millionaire novelist by age twenty, then I wanted to be a bestseller with an adaptation or two by the time I was thirty. These days I just would like to get to the point where I can write full-time and pay all my bills with that. Maybe in a few books I’ll be able to achieve that. Just got to keep writing, publishing, and marketing. With enough book sales and reviews, who knows what could happen in the future?

20150827_175542What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Always try something new. You never know when a story may come from or where you might find something you’ll love. My dad taught me that when I was a kid, and I’ve never regretted listening to him…most of the time, anyway.


Rami Ungar’s blog

Where else can you find Rami?
Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Sunday Surprise

unnamedAnd it’s a guest! From the upcoming Ink Slingers Halloween Anthology (I go the Smashwords link yesterday and no time to start reading it, so stay tuned for more), ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Russ Towne!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Campbell, California, USA. It is near San Jose and San Francisco. I write from wherever I might be at the time the seed of an idea is given to me and begins to grow.

Why pg27do you write?

There are actually several reasons I write. I write because I must. I’ve learned story ideas are precious gifts and to gratefully document and share them. I believe it would be selfish of me to horde or ignore them. Sometimes when I’ve tried the latter it was as though a great and growing pressure built inside me to the point where I could no longer think or function until I let the ideas out and shared them with others. So, I write to function and survive.
I write to provide a greater balance my life. I’m a wealth manager at a firm I founded in 2003. I spend much of my days using the logic portion of my brain. Writing helps me to maintain greater balance by allowing me to use the creative portion of my brain.
I write because to do otherwise would be to ignore the whispers of my heart. I’ve found ignoring my heart is always a bad idea.
I write to remind myself and readers of the greatness and goodness within ourselves and others.

51Td18sEtuL._AA160_When did you start writing?

I was over fifty years old and had convinced myself that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Then, about four or five years ago a friend named Denis Loiseau invited me to co-write a song with him. We had so much fun working together that we collaborated on several songs that were picked up by music industry executives from Nashville and Hollywood, and an invitation to go to Nashville to meet some music executives. Although we are receiving royalties for some of our songs, we are far from having made it to the Big Leagues of songwriters, but it has been a fantastic adventure and a whole lot of fun. Songwriting led to writing poetry, which led to writing children’s stories, and fiction and non-fiction stories, which led to writing three anthologies of my own stories, and compiling three anthologies featuring the work of forty or fifty other writers. It has been an exciting four or five years.

51-GufbUMHL._AA160_What genre(s) do you write?

Children’s stories, non-fiction stories, poetry, and fiction and flash fiction in a wide variety of genres including adventure, action, science fiction, speculative fiction, crime, thriller, paranormal, western, gold rush, utopia and dystopia.

What does your writing routine consist of?

The writing routine that works best for me is no routine. I write when the words flow so forcefully that I’m pretty much unable to think or do anything else. Sometimes the flow keeps me writing all night (which is less than ideal during the work week), and at other times I go months without writing a thing. I’ve learned if I’m patient the flow will return. Sometimes it starts as a trickle and grows, and at other times it’s a flash flood removing everything else in it’s path. I’ve tried to write without the flow but it feels too much like work, is frustrating, is rarely (if ever) productive, and wastes precious time. I love to have fun when I write or do anything else, and I have the most fun writing with the flow rather than trying to write in its absence. My favorite time and place to write is outdoors, especially at night in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I especially love writing in the rain as I sit at a covered table with the rain splashing overhead and all around. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks writer in that I enjoy writing night or day in all kinds of weather, except when it’s too hot or too cold, but when it’s just right, I write. My Chocolate Lab Duke is nearly always at my feet keeping me company.

vg_cover-2What do you feel are your strengths as a writer?

I believe readers experience and feel a greater connection with my heart and spirit, the hearts and spirits of others, and most importantly, to their own. I often hear that something I wrote made a reader cry tears of joy or healing tears. I consider that the ultimate compliment, and am honored and humbled by such heart-felt feedback.

How have you developed these qualities?

I listen to the whispers of my heart. It is my North Star as a writer. It won’t lead me astray.

41fckWLZF7L._AA160_Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration often comes to me at the most inconvenient times and places, such as when I’m in bed preparing to sleep, in the bathroom, working outside, or driving. It is when my brain has calmed down a lot that I’m able to hear the heart whispers.

Do you put yourself in your stories?

Sometimes, especially for non-fiction, but often my fiction stories begin with an actual event or experience and I just let my imagination lead me from there. I believe starting from a real event enables me to more authentically describe all I felt and experienced.

41nFuaEKKEL._AA160_Outliner or improviser?

Yes. I do both depending on my need at the time, but even my outlines are often only created in my head. My favorite is free-form writing where I just start a story and let it take me where it needs to go. I’m often amazed at the ending and what I’ve experienced along the way. To me it’s like an incredible adventure on a mighty, fast-flowing, uncharted river in the jungle. I never know what is around the next bend or when my journey will end.

Fast or slow writer?

Fast. I get bored with long projects. I love for ideas to flow as water from a fire-hose and the challenge of capturing all I can as fast as I can.

for CSTell us about your latest book:
In the next five or six weeks I’m releasing four or five books and re-releasing one, so it’s tough to choose. They are children’s books except the re-release which is titled Touched. The latter features many of my speculative stories and flash fiction. I’m proud of all these books, but I’ll go with Touched as it probably reveals more glimpses of my heart and spirit in a single book than the others. Most of the stories are uplifting though often the protagonists have to go through harrowing experiences to survive. It is a celebration of the human spirit expressed in many ways and genres.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I began with Indie, but I recognize advantages and disadvantages of each, so some day may choose another path.

61mGm8f6TwL._AA160_Any other projects in the pipeline?

Beyond the several being released by October 31, the seeds of several other stories are sprouting in my brain. I plan to give to them more of the attention I believe they deserve after I get through releasing the ones I’ve already written.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is completely selfish, simple, and aligns with my personal definition of success: To do what I love and to do it with love (for as someone once said, doing anything else is a wasted opportunity). That is success to me as a writer or anything else.

51Ukcy9ln7L._AA160_What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given? “

Write would you want to read, what would touch and entertain you.” I attempt to do that every time I write. I figure that over time like-hearted people will discover my stories and quickly feel at home. In reality, they’ll simply be feeling a greater connection with their own loving, beautiful, and compassionate hearts and spirits, and those of others, hopefully including mine.


61PwxwKuucL._AA160_Russ Towne lives with his wife in Campbell, California. They’ve been married since 1979 and have three children and three grandsons. In addition to enjoying his family and friends, and his dual passions for investing and writing, Russ loves to spend time in nature, especially near rivers and streams that run through giant redwood groves, and near beautiful beaches. He enjoys watching classic movies, reading, and tending to his small fern garden and redwood grove. Russ manages the investments of the wealth management firm he founded in 2003. He has published fourteen books, eight of which are children’s books, with five more scheduled for release by October 31, 2015*.
Russ’s books can all be found on His Amazon Author Page can be found at
Purple Fox and the Heebie Jeebies*
The Grumpadinkles*
Zach and the Toad Who Rode a Bull*
Misty Zebracorn*
V. G. and Dexter Dufflebee*
The Duck Who Flew Upside Down
Clyde and Friends
Clyde and Hoozy Whatzadingle
Clyde and I Help a Hippo to Fly
Rusty Bear and Thomas Too
Clyde and I
Children’s App Based on Characters from His Clyde Books:
Clyde and Friends children’s app developed by Gail Nelson using characters from Russ’s series of Clyde books: scheduled for release via the Apple Store by October 31, 2015.
Russ’s Blog:
Clyde and Friends —
Stay updated on Russ’s latest children’s books, apps, songs, and merchandise (featuring the animated characters that appear in his stories). Readers get sneak previews of special stories, background information about where his story ideas come from and how they are developed, and opportunities to help Russ prioritize the order in which his stories and books should be published, the look, and sometimes the names of some of his characters.
The titles of the books he has written or compiled, published, and released include:
From the Heart of a Grateful Man
Reflections of a Grateful Man
Slices of Life An anthology of the selected non-fiction stories of several writers.
Palpable Imaginings An anthology of fictional short stories by several writers in various genres.
Touched Short stories and flash fiction
Heart Whispers An anthology of the selected works of over 20 poets.
Books for Young Children:
Clyde and I
Rusty Bear and Thomas Too
Clyde and I Help a Hippo to Fly
Clyde and Hoozy Whatzadingle
The Duck Who Flew Upside Down
Clyde and Friends
Russ has four blogs:
A Grateful Man (nonfiction uplifting posts)
A Grateful Man’s Poetry
Imaginings of a Grateful Man (fictional short stories)
 Clyde and Friends (About writing children’s stories)
Why Russ Writes
Russ hopes readers experience truth and kindness in his writing, to remind everyone of the greatness and goodness within ourselves and others.
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