Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Travel to the future on Gypsy and find out what things are like in 2457!

My Gypsy series takes place in present day Milltown, Mass., a sleepy New England town, and Far Isle, a Norse land that exists in 2457. Try to envision 2457--is it ultra modern or has it reverted to something resembling the middle ages due to the failure of technology?  I am not a sci-fi writer but my themes examining the world of today have helped decide which way to go.

Skip to book 3 and picture this: no more oil or gas so no motorized vehicles etc...there are no electronic devices since there is nothing to run them on. Chaos reigns due to a demonic energy that has arrived in the form of a child. And on top of this, time fluctuations keep changing one reality into another. (You'll have to read it to find out how all of this happened). The Norse gods and goddesses who reign over this land have been thwarted by Odin's law which has prevented them from harming humans. But the law has now been lifted.

Insert into this a love story, dragons, a druid, an evil sorceress who has lost her powers, and a boat that can travel through time. Sound intriguing? Add a Irish wolfhound named Merlin, a cat called Lucifer, and Kaa, the boa constrictor--and no this is NOT a children's story--add some steamy scenes and you have a powerful potion that will keep you reading late into the night!

Book 3 will be released before Christmas but in the meantime grab a copy of Gypsy's Quest and Gypsy's Return.

Addendum: I am selling the original cover paperback versions of The Moonstone and Saille, the Willow for half price, ($6.00 +media mail shipping) and for anyone who orders I will throw in a free electronic copy of the last book of the series, The Wolf Moon. Take advantage while supplies last! e-mail me at Billing will be through paypal.

Thanks for reading...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Postscript on Ingram and update

To follow up on Ingram. After several rounds of e-mails I was able to have my two Gypsy titles released as well as being granted a refund. Just Another Desert Sunset was allowed through without any fanfare and when I asked why I was told that it fit their criteria. I'm still confused about this but left it as is. It will be interesting to see if having the book on Ingram helps my sales.

Now on to bigger news. I am 300 words into the last Gypsy book and Viola has already done the cover for me, which I just had to share! It's fantastic!!! My favorite cover so far! Viola is so talented, isn't she? I'm very excited about Gypsy's Secret and hope to have it completed and up on Amazon before Christmas.

Which brings me back to Ingram. Should I try and get this one into Ingram or just keep it with Createspace? Viola can do the cover to Ingram's specs but my formatter has never formatted for Ingram. This will probably mean that I have to submit the files and have them do the interior which could prove to be quite expensive. But then again maybe I might luck out as I did with Just Another Desert Sunset. And so the dilemma continues. My formatter asked me why I cared? He said his wife has fourteen books out (I think that's the #) and does most of her sales in Kindle. But for some reason that hasn't been the case for me. Well, actually my sales have been dismal in both formats, but that's another matter.

I'll ponder this while I write. I'm sure the answer will come to me just as my characters have taken hold of my story and run away with it. I honestly have no idea what's going to happen next! Writing for me is almost like reading. And I have to say I like it that way.

Thanks for reading! And any and all comments are appreciated.

Friday, October 10, 2014


This short writing is in response to a flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig
It called for three apple names to be used as characters or whatever you want--see if you can figure out what the apple names in this piece are.

Lord Lamborne looked up from the pile of papers on his desk. “I thought I told you to stay on it,” he said, frowning.
“I am ‘staying on it’, as you so aptly put it. I’ve been on her trail since last Wednesday. The russet beauty is elusive.”
Lord Lamborne pushed his leather chair back and stood. He was several inches taller than I was, and that coupled with the frown of displeasure on his handsome face made me cringe. I knew what this man was capable of and I didn’t want to be the recipient of his wrath. Before I could back away he’d grabbed my arm.
“No more excuses Reinette. If you haven’t found her by Monday you will be punished.”
“Yes, my lord,” I said, making the mistake of meeting his dark eyes. What I saw there chilled me to the bone.
“Get out of my sight.” He let me go and I backed away until I felt the door behind me. Turning, I fled through it.
My full name was Vonzuccalimaglios Reinette but since no one could pronounce it I was simply known as Reinette. My grandmother, despite protestations from the entire family, had bestowed this moniker upon me. “It suits him,” she’d said looking down on my wizened baby face. Why she thought this I never found out since she died before I reached one year of age.
I had worked for Lord Lamborne for over six months now and wished I’d never applied for the job. I’d expected to be his secretary since he did a lot of writing and needed someone to organize his papers. Unfortunately this was not to be. Instead he expected me to find people, women mostly, who had gone against him in some way. This latest russet beauty, as we referred to her since her hair was a flaming red color, had been his lover before she disappeared. Her full name was Maeve McDuff. I had enjoyed several pleasant conversations with this lovely lady and understood completely why she did what she did. Lord Lamborne was a cruel man who when angered lashed out with riding whips or fists. I’d seen the bruises on Maeve’s face and neck.
I headed to the stable to tack up my horse.  I knew where Maeve was but I was caught in a moral dilemma. Should I let her remain and incur the lord’s wrath or should I bring her back and watch her suffer? It was a hard decision since I was reluctant to undergo the physical punishment that came with displeasing his lordship.
As I rode I listened carefully for bandits. This forest was a hard place with  hard men about and although I was a good shot, I carried no gun. I did have a dagger on my belt but this would not protect me from the roving thieves who thought nothing of killing.
It was several hours before I came to the small village. This was her home, a poor place where villagers scrabbled to survive. Disease was rampant and many of the villagers had succumbed to one or more afflictions. Because of this, thieves gave this place a wide berth.
I found Maeve hanging out sheets from a hastily erected line. She wore a scarf to keep her wild hair back, her face red from exertion.
“Hello, Maeve,” I said, dismounting. I let my horse forage and approached the woman carefully since she’d been known to throw heavy objects when displeased.
“What are you doing here, Reinette?”
“I bet you can guess.”
“I’m not going back to that bastard. I’m needed here.”
I was well aware of her healing skills that caused her to be called a witch. “If I don’t bring you back he’ll have my hide.”
“Better yours than mine.”
When she reached up to wipe the sweat from her forehead her scarf fell, letting loose her red tangle. I sucked in my breath realizing how utterly beautiful she was. No wonder the lord wanted her back.  My breath quickened as her green eyes met mine. I was not as handsome as the lord but women enjoyed my company often enough.
“I understand your dilemma, Reinette, but if you have any feeling for me you will leave this place.”
“If I don’t return with you he’ll find someone else and that person may not be as kind as I am.”
“I don’t care. I have duties here and until that day I’ll continue to do them.”
“Could you entertain the idea of my company?” I asked before I could stop myself. Her beauty was unparalleled and not only that, she was kind and gentle, a woman I would gladly spend the rest of my life with.
A look of surprise moved across her features. “I…I’ve never thought of you in that way.” She seemed to assess me after that, her glance moving across my face and physique. “You’re not bad to look at,” she admitted. “But what are your other attributes?”
“I can cook, I’m handy with tools, and I can dance. And traveling with me is a delight because I refuse to go without my creature comforts. In other words I spend a lot of time setting up camp and finding the best herbs to go with my freshly caught rabbit.”
Maeve laughed, a tinkling sound that made my heart skip a beat. Would she? Could she…?
She bent to pick up another sheet, throwing it over the line. When she turned back her eyes were bright. “If I come with you then both of us can escape his punishments.”
“That’s correct, but what about your duties here?”
“I’ll come back when I’m needed, but where will we go?”
“I know a safe place.”
Maeve picked up her long skirts and mounted the horse. I pulled myself up behind her feeling the warmth of her body leaning into mine. A thrill of happiness went through me as we rode toward the distant mountains.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I've written about this issue before but this time I have direct experience to recount. And before we get started I just have to say that I haven't given up...

I decided after several conversations with people who tried to order my books from bookstores (independent) and couldn't get them, that I should at least republish my newer titles on Ingram. Their platform is directly connected with expanded distribution and allows the author to opt for the proper discount and returnability. This in turn enables bookstores to order. As it stands now my books don't even come up when the bookstores search for them! Yes, Createspace says it has expanded distribution but what they don't say is that they don't give the industry discount nor do they give the right to return a book. My e-books will still be published through amazon kindle.

I didn't think this process would be too difficult to get through--after all, my books are already published. How bad could it be? I already understood that I would need to pay the $49 set-up fee. When I called the first time and spoke to a very nice man he told me that my most recent book, Just Another Desert Sunset wouldn't need to be put through the process since it had an isbn that I purchased separate from Createspace. All I needed to do was give him the isbn, go into my account on Createspace and uncheck the expanded distribution for this title. Easy-peasy. While I was on the phone he drafted an email (I assume) to ask that they release my book. I did as he asked but so far nothing has happened and it's been over a week.

Now to get to my other two titles. I input all the information, uploaded my finalized, formatted pdf that I used for Createspace as well as the final cover art, back and front and spine. I paid the fees. When I finished all that a message came up that the files had a problem--but no worries we can fix it for another $10! Yay! Unfortunately that was not to be. Now, they said, I needed to hire a designer. And that is where we are.

I will call them tomorrow and see if I can get this straightened out and in the meantime I sent off an email to my formatter. Do we need to reformat for Ingram? and in that case do I need different cover files? If it requires more money I simply can't afford it! (couldn't afford what I've done already) And why was I told that my first title could be done without all this? It would certainly have all the same design flaws for their publishing platform--the only difference is that the isbn didn't need to be changed.

I have no idea if this hassle is even worth it. Although the interface is easier than it used to be, trying to deal with it is frustrating to say the least. They seem to have an attitude that screams 'you fool! why can't you figure this out?' I think it's a recent reaction to complaints that has encouraged them to offer a phone number but it's nothing like talking to a person at Createspace.

Why am I doing this, you ask? At this point I really don't know. What started it was what I mentioned at the beginning. I seem to sell more paperbacks than e-books and thought it would be nice for people to have the chance to order them.

Have any of you dealt with this? If so do you have any insights or words of wisdom? Maybe it would be: stop banging your head against the wall.

Love to hear your experiences or comments. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Too many words???

I ran into a nice woman the other day who had written a very small book on how to eliminate words from your writing. She was 'presenting' at a meet-up writing group. I thought to myself, why would I want to do that? Granted I have not read her book nor seen her presentation but I've already witnessed this trend. And it reminds me of so many other things going on in this culture that I disagree with!

It seems to go along with the three-second-attention-span mentality that's taking over. Instagram, twitter etc...are examples of this. I agree that older prose is more wordy than necessary but  I do think there's a middle ground. I happen to love words and because of that have not given in to the 'throw all adverbs out' club. I also use adjectives. When I'm looking for a  book to read I don't go for the skinny ones. I figure if I'm going to spend that much I want more words for my buck!

Will we eventually get all our communication down to one clipped sentence? Maybe we'll just go back to grunting. When I read a book I like to be taken into another world, a place that I can see, smell and almost taste, people who are multi-faceted and sometimes verbose. And when I write I try to bring the reader into what I see. How can I talk about a field full of lavender, moving gracefully in a light breeze, the smell permeating my nostrils and almost making me dizzy with its heady sweetness without using extra words? Maybe this pared down writing appeals to the non-visual readers. Perhaps for them it's the action that they're interested in, not the setting.

I find myself in a narrowing group as I struggle to connect with my tribe. Take the recent discontinuation of Longmire by A&E. Despite millions of watchers, the producers decided that they wanted to appeal to a younger demographic. It's as though anyone over fifty no longer counts in this society. According to them older people are more stuck in their ways and don't necessarily buy the products being advertised. (I want to say something rude here but I'll hold it in.) I've also noticed that nearly every show/series I've liked has been taken off just when they were getting into the true meat of it. It seems that people prefer Duck Dynasty to Defying Gravity or Touch with Keifer Sutherland, or Camelot with Joseph Fiennes as Merlin. Fabulous series. I've gotten a bit off topic here but I think the underlying message is the same.

Do you like words? And who out there enjoys a really thick book to read?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Perfect heroines

I am bemused these days about the craving for heroines who have no flaws. I was brought up in the era where heros and heroines started out one way and ended up another after grueling physical and emotional trials. It seems that nowadays many readers want their heros to arrive full-blown perfect and kick ass and take names. And not only that, they also have to be slim, beautiful with flawless skin etc etc...

My heroines are flawed. They can be selfish, stupid and really annoying. and yet they move through the narrative looking at themselves critically and finding better ways to relate. In other words they change in the course of the story. What would be the point of  having them start out as all powerful? And why would I want to read about an all powerful heroine who is a cardboard cut-out? The answer is, I don't, but apparently a lot of people do!

Is it the era will live in now that readers look for this in their books? Even a friend of mine, an older woman, admitted that she couldn't relate to one of my protagonists because she wasn't young and/or able to walk through her life without bumbling. And this heroine is older, not thin, with many problems.  I guess I can understand it in YA books, because the kids reading them need someone to look up to, but even in that case wouldn't it be better to have a vulnerable heroine who is more like the reader and ends up winning in the end? If a heroine (or hero) is too perfect how can we ever aspire to that? Because to my mind fiction is where we find out about ourselves and learn how we want to be in the world. My question is, how have we gotten here?

We live in a world of chaos now, bombarded with stimuli from dawn to dusk and even beyond if we live in a city and hear sirens and traffic etc...Many of us feel vulnerable, lost and afraid, unsure where we are going in a world that doesn't have time for our concerns. Cell phones and other electronic devices keep us isolated. Hours spent on the computer where we think we're talking with 'friends' by posting give us a false sense of community. It's a made-up world of no substance. It makes sense that we want assurance in what we read. I understand.

But again, my contention is that if we don't have flawed heros who rise up and confront their problems, fate and destiny, we will not understand how to do that ourselves. And of course, as a writer I find this trend frustrating. I won't change my writing to accommodate this--I simply can't. I only hope for readers who appreciate someone who is less than perfect but also able to overcome their difficulties.

Thanks for reading and any and all comments are very welcome!

Friday, September 12, 2014

twisty trail into the wilderness

As I child growing up on a farm in Virginia I followed barely visible trails through the woods, picked persimmons off trees and ate them, studied crawling creatures as they marched through leaf detritus and up and down tree trunks. Watched a snake move through dappled shade. I was gone from dawn to dusk, lost in a world that was completely magical. That was back in the days when children were allowed to run free. No worries about being kidnapped or snakebite or anything else. My parents trusted that I was sensible enough to recognize danger.

Being an army brat I traveled to all sorts of areas during those developmental years, including other countries. Wherever we were I found some out of the way place to explore, whether it was the housing complex in the process of being built to beckoning forests that stood dark and mysterious. I lived in Berlin when the wall was being built, ran away from home and came up against a barbed wire fence in the middle of a bridge. I found my way home again. I owe my imagination and my writing life to those who trusted me enough to let me out of their sight. Without that freedom I wouldn't have learned to build castles in my mind.

I'm disturbed by what I see happening with children these days. Kept busy with after school projects and other organized activities, they are no longer given the time to become bored. Because it is boredom that forms ingenuity, allowing minds to come up with some make-believe game or story in their mind that leads them into the world of the imagination. Why has boredom become a bad word? It's part of life. In many places children are not permitted to walk a mile to school. Is it really so much dangerous or is it the media that has instilled this terror in the minds of parents? Yes, there are predators out there and yes, children have been kidnapped. But is this a good enough reason to keep them so busy with organized activities that they can't experience the world around them? I'm not advocating putting children into danger, only discussing how anything can be taken too far. I feel for those parents who are worried all the time.

With everything that's happening across the globe, from disappearing species to polluted water and air, as well as all the practices that are taking away our green spaces, it's more important than ever to allow our children to participate in nature. They get sick more often now and I've heard it's because they're too clean! Let them play in the dirt instead of watching a video game inside a pristine house. Take them to a farm so that they can see animals grazing and rooting in the ground. Let them pick up spiders and snakes and worms. Let them play in mud and cow pies! They'll have more immunity as well as a better understanding of the world they live in.

Our children are the future and if they live plugged in to one video game after another, never understanding what nature has to offer, we will see the end of what makes this world so amazing and magical. Without appreciation the world outside our window will die.

Rant over.