Thursday, 31 October 2013

I Don't Want You To Read This

Even as I start writing this post, I don't know how to start writing this post. It occurred to me the other day that even though I blog, twitter and Facebook, that I don't really put myself out there. Other authors let their whole selves hang out. They are raw, they are real, they are honest. They let everyone into their world and into their minds and hearts. It dawned on me, that I am not one of them. I'd like to be, but there's a problem...

I don't know how.

That's right. I don't know how to let everyone see inside. The very thought leaves me quaking in my fuzzy socks. I don't know what people want to know about me, if anything. I sometimes feel like I'm one of those dreadful Mary Sue characters, you know, the painfully average girl with the painfully average life. (I love my painfully average life, it pleases me) Except I won't ever wake up with a mysterious power that I never knew I had. I won't discover that I'm really a fairy princess or an enchanted sorceress.

I could rattle on forever about the basics. I have a husband (almost 10 years married now) and three adorable kids. My oldest, a boy, is 5 1/2 and I have a set of boy/girl twins that just turned 4. I live in a small town that is starting to not feel so small anymore. I keep to myself and my handful of truly wonderful friends. My favorite color is green and I like cats. That's where I choke. I can't seem to go further than that. I want people to know me, I want them to be able to connect with me.

I feel like my voice is but a whisper among a roaring ocean of voices. I want to be one of the ones that are heard, but I can't seem to open up. I want to let it all hang out, but I just can't. I always seem to hold myself back. Hell, there's a gigantic part of me that wants to highlight this entire post and hit 'DELETE' so no one ever has to know that I wrote it in the first place. I don't want anyone to know that some days I feel like the only interesting thing about me is that I'm an Aquarius. I don't want people to know that sometimes I feel like I'm a card board cut out standing against the wall, easily missed. I don't want people to know that I feel completely ridiculous writing this post.

I don't want you to know that I feel naked even admitting this. It freaks me out to even write these words. I see them in black and white on my screen. I know I am frightened to hit PUBLISH, but fully intend to anyway and it scares me.

I don't want people to know that the thought of people knowing me terrifies me.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Are Playwrights Getting A Raw Deal? One Publisher Looks to Change The Industry Standard

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Cote-Walkden, author, editor and publisher with Writers AMuse Me Publishing. We sat down and had a very interesting discussion about her publishing houses recent decision to open their submission boxes for plays. Her publishing house is doing things a bit differently. Are they changing the industry standard?

Your publishing house recently opened its submission box to include Plays. What prompted this decision?

Unlike authors, who have a growing list of options for publishing their books, playwrights don’t have that. There are a handful of big houses, and that’s about it. One of the reasons for this is because publishing plays is a bit more labor-intensive, but the other part of the equation is that you don’t really ‘sell’ the play; it’s more like you rent it out for others to use.

That said, there ARE sales for perusal copies and performing copies of the play. From the current roster of publishing houses that deal in plays, there is not one penny from the sale of those copies of the scripts that goes to the playwright. Let me say that again... the playwright sees no royalty from the sale of their scripts. If your play has ten characters, there are ten ‘book’ sales, plus directors, lighting, etc, who also need copies of the play, so it’s now 15 copies, plus the perusal copies that were bought before the play was even started. It’s wrong that the playwright sees none of that money. The only royalties they get are based on the actual performance rights.

I know a number of excellent playwrights. It’s wrong that they don’t get paid for their written word. Perhaps this is tilting at windmills, but the industry standard is horribly unfair. A writer – any writer – should be paid for his words when they are sold.

Also, there are some ways that plays can be made more affordable to the small groups that want some options for their production clubs and companies. We want to give them more options, and more availability for plays.

Can you explain the difference in how a novelist is paid as opposed to how a playwright is paid?

When a play is ‘sold’, the purchaser – usually a production company, community theater, school or drama club – signs a contract that specifies the dates they will be doing the play, the number of performances and the number of seats in the theater that could potentially be sold. The contract is reviewed to make sure there are no other performances of that play at the same time within a specific radius, then the materials are shipped to the purchaser for them to use for those specified performances only. There is a trust factor involved, to be sure, but with internet now, it’s a lot easier to make sure the play isn’t being performed illegally. The playwright receives a small percentage of the performance rights only. A novelist gets a percentage of each book sold.

How are you looking to change this? 

We’re looking at a number of changes. Obviously the first change is to make sure the playwright gets a royalty based on the sales of his scripts. We’re also going to offer the scripts digitally. Yes, we know that some will argue that to do so opens the play up to being illegally copied or shared. Yes, it does, but in a day and age when we all have scanners, printers and photocopiers sitting on our desks, that is possible with just about anything. We watch for those illegal activities the same way every other play publisher does. Having bundled digital versions makes for an affordable, quick, green way to do the plays.

We’re also looking at, when we open to musicals, changing things up there as well. The industry standard is that musical scores, etc, are ‘rented’ to the production group. That means the publisher packs up boxes full of binders, ships them to the group, then waits for them to come back. When they are returned in proper condition, the group gets a refund of some of their money, but the rental costs and shipping costs are huge. This was done to prevent, again, illegal copying. I again say that with all of us having instant access to copy machines, if they want to copy, they will copy, so why not just streamline the system and sell them the music? It makes doing a musical more affordable for the production company, and a whole lot easier for everyone.

Our contracts ALL allow for video rights for the production company. We know it happens. You cannot stop people from copying a performance on their phones or cameras when again, everyone has that capability right in their pocket. What we do is sell the rights to allow for the production company to film the performance, then make and distribute up to 100 copies. It gives the production company the opportunity to help out with their financial bottom line, it gets the plays seen by more people, and it gives the playwright some money for what we know will happen anyway. There are, of course, limitations on what the production company can do and where they can use the video, but we think that this is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

We also are changing how artwork and posters are handled. They are typically sold optionally with the play, and in most cases, they are not purchased because they are cost-prohibitive. For any small production organization to have to pay the extra for this is a lot to ask, but it is a missed opportunity for the publisher and the playwright to get what is essentially brand name recognition. You see anything with a white face mask and you know it’s the Phantom. In order to make the artwork affordable for the end user, instead of having artists on contract to do the art on our behalf (giving the artist a one-time payment for their work, no matter how many times it gets used), our artists are not on staff, and they provide the artwork on a royalty basis, meaning that for each time the poster or playbill is purchased for a production, the artist gets paid a royalty. This makes it more affordable for the production group, which in turn helps to create that recognition with the end product.

Why do you think these are important changes to make? 

Up to now, the lion’s share of the money generated by a play lands in the publisher’s pocket, to the detriment of the playwright. That’s wrong. The playwright should be given a royalty on the sale of each copy of their work, and plays should be more accessible to everyone. They are a vital part of any community structure. We need to work to maintain that.

Do you think this will catch on at other publishing houses? 

We can hope so, but I doubt the traditional long-standing publishing houses will change their position. They are used to the money going to them – from the video rights, the copy sales, the rentals for music and scores, for artwork. Hopefully there will be a few more options for playwrights, but it won’t be easy. We know that, but we’re a pretty determined bunch. We have some excellent editors and consultants with decades of experience in the theater in many capacities. If we can bring about some change that makes sure the playwrights get what they should be getting, then that’s all the better.

What kind of plays are you looking for? 

Right now we are open to full length plays and to one-act plays. Down the road, we will also open up to musicals. We will not be considering ten-minute plays. They simply don’t work with this business model.

Any final thoughts on the subject? 

We live in a time where money is a bit harder to come by. We are seeing schools and colleges cut back on many programs, and unfortunately art programs seem to be the first thing on the chopping block. We need to make some changes so that we don’t lose access to something so vital to our society as a play production. The value of entertainment is always under rated in these discussions, but we need it. We need to be able to see ourselves as we are, we need to see society as it is, and we need to have that release. Plays have existed almost for as long as society has – longer than television, longer than movies – and I think there is a reason that performers who appear on screen often find their way back to the stage. We can’t lose that. Plays need to be accessible to all ages, to all income levels, and with the current structure for publishing them, it becomes more of a challenge for groups to be able to perform them. There also is NO reason why a playwright is not paid for his written words. To me, that’s inexcusable.

So there you have it folks! Get your playwright friends over to the Writers AMuse Me Publishing website.
If you're a blogger, please feel free to reblog this interview. You can also contact me and I will forward the original email to you. Just remember to link back here, pretty please.

Don't be shy!

Feel free to leave a question or comment for Mary Cote-Walkden!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Big Reveal!

Okay, so it's pretty much been agonizing to keep this to myself. I'm having a lot of fun writing this book and I want to share it with everyone. I'm only six chapters in right now, but my goal is to have the first draft complete by the end of November.

This idea all started because of Cesar Millan. I've been a fan of his show The Dog Whisperer for quite some time and I follow him on various social media sites. I read this quote by him and it sparked something inside my brain. I have never met a dog I couldn't help; however, I have met humans who weren't willing to change. It got me thinking and soon I found myself with the idea that I'd turn a character into a dog to teach him how to be a good person. I put the idea in many different genre's, but it's when I decided to write it in the middle grade that I became really excited about it.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and write a book.

Oh, and I wanted to mention that you can now follow me on Facebook! 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Spotlight: An Interview With Barbara Townsend

This week I have Barbara Townsend with me. Barbara is the author of the newly released novel, Blood Atonement, an historical mystery set on the pioneer trail. 

From the Writers AMuse Me Publising websiteHer writing credits include a co-authored feature story for the UW newspaper Branding Iron, and two articles in the Holloman Sunburst. She was first a student and then a faculty member of the Wyoming Writing Project. She designed the logo and cover for the 2005 Owen Wister Review, the university's literary and arts magazineThat issue garnered OWR its first Magazine Pacemaker Finalist award by the Associated Collegiate Press. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Art. She contributed a chapter for the New Zealand anthology Hamiltons of the World.

Barbara entered the U.S. Air Force at 17 and retired 24 years later. Then, during her days at UW, she chanced upon a gold mining ghost town and was captivated by what had been an early 1900s log hotel. After graduation, she and her husband bought the country inn and labored to revive the ol' place into a flourishing B&B and saloon.

Mariah: You spent 24 years in the Air Force, did you ever see yourself becoming an author? Why or why not?

Barbara: Never. I only wrote reports and a few pieces for the base newspaper. Because of long, stressful hours, writing for the fun of it just didn’t enter my thinking. Not until I retired and enrolled in a university fiction writing class did I become hooked on writing a novel.

Mariah: Would you ever write a book based upon some of your experiences in the Air Force?

Barbara: While I think my experiences could be interesting reading, most of my experiences dealt with sensitive military situations or other airmen’s deeply personal circumstances. Because of that sensitivity, I would never write about it.

Mariah: Do you have any unique talents or abilities?

Barbara: I can cross one eye. And I tat.

Mariah: What was the biggest challenge you had while writing Blood Atonement, your historical mystery novel?

Barbara: The biggest challenge was verifying that the historical facts were correct and from a source I could trust. For example, the pro-polygamists pointed out the women’s public support of the practice, yet those women’s journals reflected the opposite view.

Mariah: Would your write another historical mystery and if you did would it be in the same era?

Barbara: I’d love to write another historical mystery and set it on a pioneer trail. Being from the Midwest USA and now living in the Mountain West, I’ve always been near an Old West trail. It’s a fascinating time period and the personal situations are dramatic.

Mariah: What was the hardest scene to write?

Barbara:  Aveline’s wedding night was the toughest. It’s a simple scene, yet it includes many subtle—but important—elements of their lives. Feedback from a few readers that this scene had the greatest emotional impact was very gratifying.

Mariah: What drew you to write an historical mystery?

Barbara:  I had the incredible good fortune to gain an internship at the University of Wyoming’s Toppan Rare Book Library. Book collections on both sides of the polygamy issue expounded lies, truths, and mythology. My research paper compared these elements to find the reality, and the paper won a research competition. Later, my intent was to write a nonfiction book on women in early Mormon polygamy examining those myths, lies, truths, and reality from all sides. Later, I had fallen in love with writing mysteries and how to make clues and red herrings fit into a plausible story. My accumulated research lent itself to tell a story about a unique and little-known situation in American history.

Mariah: What are you working on now?

Barbara: I’m working on the edits for a second murder mystery, currently titled Clear and Convincing Evidence and set for a 2014 release by Writers AMuse Me Publishing. This is a contemporary story set in Wyoming. The main character is Jennifer, a college journalism student who swears she has uncovered a murder on  campus and a cover-up conspiracy. She just has to live long enough to prove it.

Mariah: What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

Barbara: Oh, there are about three things that vie for favorite things. Developing the story and the mystery’s red herrings and clues to correctly fit the facts of early Mormonism and vice versa. Another favorite thing was the research. I love research. My last favorite thing was experiencing that rare feeling writers get that a character knew more than I did about a situation. That character recommended a different course. I listened to that character and shifted the story-line. The story is the better for it.

That's all folks! Thanks to Barbara for stopping by! Good luck with your career. 

You can visit Barbara on her blog!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

It's Official!


When Stars Die Release and Other News

When Amber Skye Forbes was just fifteen years old she wrote a book. That was before I knew her. Well, today is the day. Her novel, When Stars Die is officially released today! Congrats Amber!

In honor of her book being released we have decided to run another cover art contest over on her blog. So go and vote for your favorite cover! There are some stunning entries, as always. The last contest was a huge hit, raking in nearly one thousand votes. In the end the winner was decided by a margin of just nine votes.

Go to Amber's blog and vote for your favorite!

Now, if you look on the right side of your screen you will see that I now have a Facebook page (you might have to scroll down to see the widget) When I reach 100 likes, author Jaden Wilkes is going to do a random draw to give one of my followers a copy of one of her ebooks. Thank you, Jaden!

Not only that, but when I reach 100 likes, I will reveal the title and plot of my middle grade novel!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Spotlight: An Interview With Heather Gregson

Heather Gregson's writing debut is the middle grade historical fiction novel, A Dog of War. She currently resides with her own small zoo, consisting of cats, a spoiled pug and one moody parakeet. 

Mariah: Tell me a bit about yourself. 

Heather: The best way to describe myself is as a Transformers fanatic, Geek Girl, avid reader, dog, cat and parakeet owner. I’ve always had a very active imagination and love making up stories in my head. The more I think about them,the more they play like movies, and then I write them. I love getting lost in amazing worlds of books or imagination.

Mariah: You've published two middle grade novels through Writers AMuse Me Publishing, A Dog of War and Billy and The Gargoyles. What drew you to write in this genre?

HeatherMy niece, Josephine. I originally began writing historical romance novels under a pseudonym, but when my sister was expecting I started writing picture books and easy readers. I don’t live near my niece and wanted to be able to tell her stories, so writing them for her was the best option for me. As she grew, my stories grew with her. The more I became involved with writing middle grade the more my love of the genre grew.

Mariah: What unique challenges are there in writing a middle grade novel?

HeatherOne of the biggest challenges is keeping things age appropriate without talking down to kids. Kids know a lot today and have been through many different things, good and bad. In A Dog of War, the story is set during the Holocaust and I had to balance the truth without being overly graphic or too frightening. In Billy, he deals with being abandoned by a parent and ignored by the other. I needed to be able to put myself in Billy’s place so he reacted as a kid would, not an adult.

Mariah: Where did the inspiration for these books come from? 

HeatherA Dog of War was inspired by several documentaries I’ve seen about WW2 and the Holocaust and my late dog, Chelsea. I was watching one documentary when the Germans forced the people in one village to leave. As they were walking down the road with all they could carry, their dogs were walking along with them, tails wagging. I looked at Chelsea, who was such a sweet, gentle natured girl, and wondered what would she think if something like that happened to us.The more I thought about it, the more the story began to develop.

Billy and the Gargoyles was inspired by my love of gargoyles. I think at times we have all felt alone even within our families and that we don’t fit in. Not all families are happy and close and kids live this, they need to know they are not alone in it. It’s okay to make a family other than the one we are born into, as long as we feel loved and supported by them. That includes a family of gargoyles.

Mariah: How hard was it to write a book from the point of view of a dog?

HeatherIt wasn’t too hard. I just had to remember that Tierza wouldn’t understand what was happening, so that allowed me to tell the story of the Holocaust from her point of view without having to be political or too graphic.I could say what she saw and  her confusion, frustration, and naiveté. It was easy to write about her steadfast belief that as long as she and her Aaron are together everything would be all right, no matter what they faced. Those of us blessed to have dogs in our lives know that feeling.

Mariah: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? 

HeatherI’m currently learning to play chess against my computer and not having the greatest success, but keep trying. My biggest challenge is seeing the whole board and each piece’s possible move. I’ve been learning to knit as well.

Mariah: What was the hardest scene you've ever written?

HeatherI wrote the death of one of the animals in A Dog of War and it was so painful. I teared up when I wrote it, and again when I had to go back over it in editing. It still hurts my heart to this day. A Dog of War was a painful book to write, but I am so proud of the story and it was worth the pain.

Mariah: What can your readers look forward to seeing from you in the future? 

There will be a sequel to Billy and the Gargoyles as well as a new fantasy, The Dragon Sword.

Thanks for the wonderful interview, Heather. 

Be sure to follow her on Twitter @TierzaChels
Stop by her website and say hello
Or visit her author page on the Writers AMuse Me Publishing Website.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Bridging The Gap

I stumbled upon this little gem on Facebook today and I found every word of it to be true.

No one wants to be the bully that tells the beginner writer that for the first while, anything he writes will not measure up to his imagination. No one wants to discourage the blossoming talent; new to the world it's a fragile thing. I wish someone would have told me about the gap.

I'm now writing my third book. All I'll say in this post is that it's a middle grade novel and I'm loving every minute of it. I've wanted to write this book for months. I feel like the three thousand words I've written for this book are better than the combined word count of both of my novels, Unbroken and The Demon In Him. (the combined word count comes in at somewhere around 110 000+ words)

So, if you are a beginner, mind the gap. Writing crap is not the end of the world. We all have to start somewhere. Not everything you write will be brilliant (despite what your friends say, they have to like it LOL) Not every idea you have will turn out the way you wanted to on paper. Actually, until you really learn what you're doing, nothing comes out the way you want it to, but don't give up. Don't. Give. Up.

My third book makes me feel like I might just be bridging the gap. But ask me again when it's finished.

Three cheers for the gap!

If you're a writer who has already crossed the gap, tell me your story below. Your AHA moment when you knew you'd done it.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The End

That's how I feel today. 
Last winter I was visited by a girl who sobbed in a bathroom stall. I needed to know why she was crying and after some coaxing, Harley revealed her story to me. Now, almost a year after she first whispered to me, I have finished it. Yesterday, after six months of solid work on my second novel, The Demon In Him, I finally got to write those two wonderful words, The End.

But really, this is just the beginning. I have relationships to strengthen, clues to drop, scenes to flesh out, description to enrich and characters to perfect. The end is just the beginning for any writer. It really is the first step in a long journey, but I made it. I really freaking made it. I'm positively joyful this morning.

I finished The Demon in Him last night. It came up to just over sixty one thousand words and hit thirty five chapters. I'm expecting to add more than I'll lose during revisions. I'd like the word count to be somewhere around 75k when it's all done, but it will be what it will be. I wont add fluff to bump it up.

I'm so very excited that I get to write something else today. I'm also nervous. I'm leaving one world behind and opening the door to another. Those first steps are always the scariest.

Wish me luck.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Spotlight: An Interview With Mary Cote

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Mary Cote. Mary writes her books while sitting under a cherry tree in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia, gaining inspiration from her two sons, and Herbert the WonderDog.

Mariah: Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Mary: There really isn’t a lot to tell. I live on an acreage in the Okanagan. I homeschooled my two boys... one of the best decisions I could have made. I’ve been involved in police enforcement, journalism, and the hospitality business, all of which I loved, and all of which manage to sneak into my writing. I write poetry for fun or to vent, but never to move people. I love a challenge, and don’t like to back down. I love to sing, but shouldn’t, love to cook and bake, but shouldn’t, and tell really bad jokes that people tell me I also shouldn’t. I exercise too little, swear too much, and would rather sit under a cherry tree to write, my dogs sleeping beside me, than attend a social function of any kind. I also have a small streak of political outrage as I age. I have a couple blogs – one that I love but don’t have the time to tend to (The Great Hair Migration), and one that gives in to that aforementioned political outrage. I write several genres – adventure, literary, humor, mystery, historical, military fiction – but never can or will write YA, science fiction, or fantasy. One day I will write a western – it’s on the bucket list.

Mariah: You're not only an author, but you also run a publishing company. Are there any unique challenges in juggling all this responsibility?

Mary: Most people think that it would be confusing to write my own work while editing someone else’s. Actually that’s no problem at all. The challenge is finding time to do the writing, the editing, the gardening, the cleaning, the renovating and the mom duties.

Mariah: Among your other novels, you've written a series. Tell us about Cabochon.

Mary: You take a group of trained military specialists, pull them into the private sector, have them running mines that only harvest colored gems and that always respect the local people, the local customs and the environment, and you have Cabochon Incorporated. It was a combination of my boys biggest interests at the time – one was a rock hound and the other is a nature/environmental encyclopedia – and my desire to make a political statement that yes, corporations can make money without hosing the people who work with them or around them. Part of the business is also to restore areas damaged by other mining companies, making it productive again. The two main characters are former Navy SEALS. Like all SEALS, they are uber-high achievers, so one has medical training and a degree in environmental reclamation. The other is a geologist. The added bonus, and this cannot be stressed enough, is that they are former Navy SEALS. In each book in the series, they go to a different mine in a different part of the world. Each book becomes a family event, because everyone gets involved in the research, and ideas of different situations fly around the room. It requires research into the mining of the particular gem, into the local geographic situation, the political and social aspects of the area where the story is set, and environmental issues that are pertinent to the area, all wrapped up in an adventure that keeps the boys on their toes as they try to solve a problem plaguing the mine. In the first one, they are rescuing the woman who will soon become a partner in the business. One involves the selling of women into prostitution, one involves the lack of funding for research that results in a kidnapping, one will involve eco-terrorism, and an upcoming one will involve poaching.

There is also a plan to bring in a companion series for children, set in the same places where the adult adventures are set.

Mariah: Where does your love of storytelling come from?

Mary: Grade 5 Math Class. I hated math (and it shows) so I started writing in my notebook. Before I knew it, I was writing a murder mystery that consumed math classes, lunch hours, and every school assembly that year (I didn’t really like school assemblies either). I also had an uncle who was a bit of an inspiration. He wrote for a newspaper, wrote during the war, fought with the King’s Own Calgary Tanks, and by the time I came along, he had a little house with a dozen typewriters and radios in it. It was fascinating.

Mariah: What was the hardest scene you've ever written?

Mary: The Battle of Dieppe... although to say it was a battle is a bit of a stretch. It was a slaughter of Canadians. When I wrote that scene, I based it on the notes and writings of my uncle who was there, so it was as if I was seeing it through his eyes. Ayne is a fictionalized account of this uncle’s life. The scenes in the jungles of Vietnam for Chuck (The Red of Flowing Blood I See) were also a challenge. It’s a task that seems much too enormous, to take real situations that were filled with anguish, pain, and death then attempt to portray them on paper. It’s very hard to do them justice. The books I have done that involve war are the most difficult, because there were real people there. In completely fictional work, killing a character isn’t a heartbreaker for me, even when it is a main character. That said, in both Redemption and Never Again Forever, there were a few scenes that were taxing to write.

Mariah: Of all your novels, of what one are you the most proud?

Mary: Oye, the dreaded question... the Cabochon series is fun, and pushes me to learn more, which I like. Redemption is special to me because I started that book the day my mother passed away. Never Again Forever deals with an issue that is very important to me and one that I wish more people would take seriously – the threat of what we are told is global warming (although in my book, we discover that the global warming is a ruse perpetrated by politicians) and the fallout from our indifference to the science. The military fictions (AyneThe Red of Flowing Blood I See, and Trip Anderson, USMC: The Road Less Travelled) are special because of the appreciation they give me of what others were and are prepared to do for me, without knowing me. Their sacrifices move me always so anything I can do to attempt to show that I understand at least a bit of what they experienced, that I don’t take what they did for granted, and that perhaps I can make more people aware, is very important for me. If I have to pick one... Trip Anderson, USMC. I had to mentally put on the uniform, go through boot camp, fight his battles from his perspective, deal with the BS that they deal with daily from within the Corps and from without. For a Canadian chick to try this was a huge challenge, and while I am proud that I tried, it is also what makes it difficult to pitch, because no one will believe that a woman could write that sort of book and be anywhere close to accurate.

Mariah: What do you think is the hardest part about being both an author and a publisher?

Mary: Time. There just isn’t enough of it, and when I write I feel guilty because I should be working on one of our other author’s books to help edit, promote or network with them. I need about 10 more hours in each day.

Mariah: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Mary: Hobbies? LOL. I used to do a lot of sewing, clothes but also hand stitching. I’ve made over 50 counted cross stitch Christmas stockings. I love gardening, but don’t really have the time for that. Photography has always been a bit of a passion; holidays for me are about going someplace where I can write and take pictures.

Mariah: What can your readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Mary: I have a literary piece about a man who wakes up one day believing that he is going to die within the year, so he ends up living waaaay outside his comfort zone, waiting for death to come take him. I have more Cabochon books coming out, the next one set at a ruby mine in Tasmania, then a sapphire mine on Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic, before it moves to Madagascar then the Urals. I’m playing with the Cabochon kids books, and have a literary piece about Jesus, done from the perspective of Mary Magdala. There is another adventure book in the works as well – Bhisti, about a Canadian family involved in the alternate fuel industry (and with fingers in several other pies).

A big thanks to Mary for stopping by. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013


The leaves of autumn are delicious shades of golden yellows and fire reds, pumpkin spice everything is in full swing. Mid October is just around the corner, do you know what that means? NaNoWriMo approaches. Last year was the first year that I ever participated (I won) and I plan to do it again this year. I don't really care if I win or lose, because I'm not aiming for 50 000 words. My goal is to start, and finish, my middle grade novel. I've never written a middle grade novel before, but I have a fantastic idea for it and I really excited to write it.

So you might ask why I plan to participate in an event if I don't care whether or not I win. You see, I learned a lot from NaNo last year. It was an awakening for me. I was no longer the dreamer who leaned on her hands as dreams danced in her starry eyes as she longingly whispered 'one day'. I was a doer. I set out to accomplish very specific goal and be damned if I didn't do it.

It's easier than you think to make the step from dreamer to doer, all you need is a plan. For me, that was NaNoWriMo 2012. I wrote a book in a month. Until that point I was a dreamer, my novel went from one day, into full on existence! Since then I've scribbled and scrawled idea after idea. I'm 30 Chapters deep in The Demon In Him, a book I started last year, shelved, then picked back up again in April. I've also mapped out a few different novel ideas. I blog, I do author interviews, I work on a literary magazine and I help fellow author friends where ever I can. It's fun for me. This is what I love doing and being busy with all these things makes me happy. Now, you might wonder if this post has a point. It's probably been said before by countless people but here it is anyway, Dreams come true when you stop dreaming and start doing.

That's right. So ask yourself this "What did I do today to make my dream come true."

So I'm doing NaNoWriMo because I like it. I'm doing it because it was fun last year. I want to do it again this year, not to prove anything to myself like last year, but because I don't want to miss out on the opportunity to learn something again this year. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Spotlight: An Interview With Pete Clark

This week I had the honor of interviewing Pete Clark, author of Midnight Riders and winner of the When Stars Die Cover Art Contest. First off, a big congratulations to Pete for winning, it was a pretty close race in the end and he took first place by just nine votes!

Mariah:  Tell me a bit about yourself.

Pete: I teach High school English Lit. I love animals, reading, writing all kinds of random things. I enjoy travel but I am so sick of airports that I don’t plan on going anywhere in the near future. I love all kinds of comedy from subtle satire to offensive slapstick to bad puns.

Mariah:  When did you first start writing?

Pete: I started writing when I was little. Sometime around ten. I wrote a lot of short survival stories featuring friends of mine. They were terrible. I basically killed people off in the order that I liked them at the time. Psychologists would have enjoyed analyzing my madness.

Mariah:  Along with Midnight Riders, which is an historical paranormal fiction novel, you've published a short story collection of westerns and you're querying a YA fantasy novel. Is there a genre you don't write in?

Pete: I don’t do Romance or erotica. I don’t do much with realistic fiction outside of plays. But I am considering a couple of novel projects of realistic fiction. We’ll see if it goes anywhere. I write almost anything else. My favorite genre is comedic horror. An odd mix, but they’re fun.

Mariah:  Being a multi-genre author, is it difficult to switch genre's so often?

Pete: Not really.  I like changing genre, style, perspective, everything. I like getting short story challenges full of restrictions or scenarios I don’t normally use. I enjoy trying new things. The bad part is that it kills your branding and people who like some of your stuff are surprised when they read something else and it’s so different. But I enjoy it so I’m sticking with it

Mariah: What was the inspiration for Midnight Riders?

Pete: I love early American history and so does my father in law. We were having a discussion about some of our favorite under-appreciated heroes of the revolutionary war. Yes, that is the kind of nerdy discussions we have. At the top of the list were Benedict Arnold, Samuel Prescott and William Dawes. So I wanted to showcase them and many others. Also I love comedy and supernatural creatures. So I figured I’d mix them and there you go.

Mariah:  Except for the wendigos, the rippers and the gargoyles, is Midnight Riders historically accurate?

Pete: The vast majority of it is. Most of the timeline locations and major events are accurate. I do take some liberties here and there. A few major ones. The most obvious being that Daniel Boone spends virtually of the war in the south western theater, but in Midnight Riders he is all over the place. I know several people didn’t know he was around during the Revolutionary war. So he is another guy I wanted to include.

Mariah:  Would you write another novel like Midnight Riders? If you did, what era of history would you choose?

Pete: Probably. I like combining history and chaos. I have a few ideas. If I opt for a sort of sequel I would target the war of 1812. That’s another part of history that a lot of people don’t know much about. I also have something going now that takes place during the middle ages and another that I have finished that takes place during the Renaissance. But that one is literary not historical.

Mariah:  What unique talents or hobbies do you have?

Pete: People tell me that I am very funny and quick witted. A lot of my students have told me that my class is like learning from a stand-up comedian. I am pretty good at mimicking accents. But that’s probably more annoying than a talent. I’m pretty bad ass at Team Fortress 2. 

Mariah:   What can your readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Pete: Well I may convert a play of mine that is realistic fiction into a novel. But I have a lot of other things closer to release. I am involved in a couple of cool group writer projects with my publisher JEA. Those should be out this month. I have a collection of short stories, that are a mix of genres. I may release that before the end of the year, not sure. And I finished a novella that features a slew of Shakespearean characters pitted against each other and other treats. Not sure what I’m going to do with that yet. I may self-publish it or query. Not sure. I think it’s a little too crazy for most publishers. But I think that readers will really enjoy it.

Thanks again for stopping by, Pete.

If you have a minute you should visit Pete:
On Facebook
On Twitter
On his Website

Friday, 4 October 2013

I'm Afraid of Being Like Kathryn Stockett

My beautiful beast, Trouble. He's about 20 lbs. 
If you knew me in real life there are certain things you would come to learn about me. Things like, I drink coffee in the morning, but not all day long. I have two cats; one is gigantic, one is not. I tend to stay home a lot; I like to be social, but only to a point. I'm not a recluse or anything, just home is where I feel the home. I crack jokes when I'm nervous (ask my doctor, he'll tell you how funny I am) I have three kids, and I don't talk about my writing with my friends who are not also writers.

No offense to the non writers of the world, but they don't get it. They ask questions like "What's it about?" I hate that question. I've also been trying to remedy not having an answer for it by working on my elevator pitches. My non writer friends are fantastic people and I love them; the reason I don't talk about my writing with them is all in my head and none of their fault at all, really.

You see, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of being like Kathryn Stockett, the woman who wrote the bestselling book, The Help. I'm afraid that if I shout from the rooftops that I'm a writer, my friends are going to *GASP* ask questions. They might even develop a set of expectations. According to an article on More, after The Help was rejected for the 15th time, one of her friends said 'Maybe the next book will be the one,'. You see, because her friends knew she was querying agents, they had a set of expectations they built up in their heads. Why does she still bother to query that same book? If it was that good surely an agent would have picked it up by now, right? How could she send fifteen queries and not land a deal?

Easy, it happens. All. The. Time. Kathryn Stockett is surely not alone on the list of rejected authors that went on to be best sellers. Here is a list of 50 authors that were rejected before someone finally thought their book was publishable. Isaac Asimov, Margaret Mitchell, Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, Zane Grey, and the list goes on. Kathryn Stockett received a staggering 60 rejections before she landed an agent. I applaud her for her tenacity and her never say die attitude. I applaud her for lying to her friends and saying she was repainting her apartment when she was really working on more revisions. I applaud her for believing in her work even when her friends thought 'the next book [would] be the one,' 

I've only ever received rejections for my poetry. I have written a book, but Unbroken is really not ready for query, and I'm still on the first draft of The Demon in Him. I do imagine that if I should decide to query my work and not self publish, that I'd get a ton of support from my friends, but I'm not going to tell them until after I've landed a contract. I don't imagine there are many words to use to console a person who's book (that took years to write) isn't good enough (in the eyes of that agent/publisher, anyway) to be published.

Maybe a simple pat on the back and a dreamy whisper of the words One Day...

There's no need to finish the sentence, we're writer's, dreaming is our day job.