Saturday, December 06, 2008

Weekend Interview with H. Terrell Griffin

Happy Saturday! Today I'm pleased to announce a special author interview wiht H. Terrell Griffin, who is celebrating the release of his book Blood Island. Pay close attention, because at the end of this interview you'll find information about how you can win a signed copy of this book today!

Terry, welcome to Allie's Musings! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in Central Florida, served three years in the U.S. Army, earned degrees in history and law and practiced law in Orlando for 38 years. I was board certified by the Florida Bar as a Civil Trial Lawyer. I have a home on Longboat Key, Florida, where much of my book takes place, and spend as much time as possible on my boat. I’ve been married to the most delightful woman since I was in college and we have three sons and two grandchildren.

Ah, sounds like a lovely place to write! When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I have been a voracious reader since I was a child. I discovered the joys of mystery novels while in college and have always aspired to write one. I was just simply too busy with my career and my family to take the time to try writing. As I was nearing retirement from the practice of law I decided that I had to take my shot if I was ever going to scratch the writing itch. I sat down and wrote my first book in 2005 and have been writing ever since. I think the triggering moment was when I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger and if I wanted to write a novel, I’d better get busy.

Tell us about your latest writing project.

My latest book, Blood Island, was released by Oceanview Publishing on December 1, 2008. The book takes place in Longboat Key, which is off the west coast of Florida just south of Tampa Bay, Key West and Orlando. The protagonist, Matt Royal, a beach bum former lawyer living on Longboat Key, is asked by his ex- wife to help find her 18 year old stepdaughter who disappeared while on Spring Break from college. The search takes him to the Florida Keys and to Blood Island where a very dangerous group of zealots have set up housekeeping and plan to cause great harm to the world. Matt, with the help of his friends Jock Algren and Logan Hamilton, set out to rescue the girl and stop the coming conflagration.

Sounds like an exciting read! Now, what do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

I think the most difficult thing is to make myself sit down and write. I tend to go in spurts, spending days at a time at the computer and then slacking off for days at a time. The most exciting part of the process is finding out what the characters are going to do next, how they go about solving the mystery, what their next day is going to be like. I don’t write from outlines, but just let the characters take on their own lives and let the words flow. When I’m on a roll, when the writing is going just right and the characters are having fun, I am rewarded.

Describe your writing space...
I actually have two writing spaces, one in my study at home in Maitland, an Orlando suburb, and the other on the sun porch of my condo overlooking Sarasota Bay on Longboat Key.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I spend a great deal of time on Longboat Key, doing much of what my main character, Matt Royal, does; boating, fishing, and hanging out on the beach and visiting the local bars on our lovely island. I hold a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Masters License and love being on a boat on the water. I’ve found that this life gives me a great deal of material for my novels.

I can definitely imagine that! What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I think the thing that surprised me the most was that I could actually write something that people would enjoy. People tell me that they enjoyed reading my books, and I am always a little surprised and a lot pleased. I have gotten so much pleasure from reading that I am overjoyed that I can actually create a book that gives others that same pleasure.

Now the good giveaway details:

H. Terrell Griffin is giving away a signed copy of his book, Blood Island, to one lucky tour visitor today. Go to Terry’s book tour page,, and enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 5811, for your chance to win. Entries from Allie's Musings will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Terry’s book tour page next week.

Thanks for stopping by today, and have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 05, 2008

What I'm Doing...

OK, an update:

What I'm reading right now: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. I haven't read anything by her in a while (had to take a break). I like it so far, not only because of the decent plot but also because it gives me a chance to study her technique: she does a lot of switching POV and also past vs. present tense. That's what I'm attempting to do in Entwined, so it's good inspiration and motivation.

What I'm writing right now: working through revisions of Summer's Song (still!) and a first draft of Entwined, a literary-romance-paranormal story that jumps all over the place and is incredibly fun to play with.

What I'm watching right now: Fringe is my newest favorite show (good writing and acting), along with Life, which I discovered last season. I've also recently become a convert to House, along with my old faves Prison Break, Survivor (yes, I'll admit it) and Cold Case.

What I'm listening to right now: Where I Stood by Missy Higgins. Oh, and of course holiday carols. 'Tis the season, after all!

What about you?

Current Word Count for Entwined: 18,867

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: He still can’t get over the fact that the bones belong to a child, a baby, and have lain inside that wall for over twenty years.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some Blogs for You to Visit Today

Look: the official graphic! And if you click on it, you can see the official list of all the EPPIE finalists. Very exciting.

I'm giving props to a couple of blogs today:

Liz is blogging every day about her progress working through the book Discovering the Writer Within. It’s a 40 day program to exercise one's creativity and imagination.. Go on over and see what she's up to today!

And a cousin on my husband's side has set up a brand new blog featuring her photography business (plus she has cool Christmas music playing there). I'm thinking I should probably commission her to do a new (and professional) head shot for my website. What do you think?

Current Word Count for Entwined: 18,288

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: She feels the nausea build in her stomach again, and she knows that if she is not in front of a toilet in a minute or two, she will lose her breakfast to the carpet of Silverstone Hall.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Karen Wiesner

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I have the pleasure of hosting prolific, award-winning author Karen Wiesner. Sit back, warm up that cup of coffee, and enjoy!

Karen, I'm so pleased to have you here on my blog today. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m an accomplished author with 55 books published in the past 10 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 74 awards, and 21 more titles under contract. My books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror and action/adventure. I also write children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building} available from Writer’s Digest Books.

My previous writers’ reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like my own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which I founded in 2003. The group does two anthologies together, edited by myself and others, per year. I’m also a member of EPIC, Sisters in Crime Internet Chapter,, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and World Romance Writers.

Wow! I think I'm exhausted just reading that list of accomplishments! Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

I actually have several new releases:

Woodcutter’s Grim Series—Classic Tales of Horror Retold is the one-volume novella collection of my previously published books in the romantic horror series: "Papa" (Book 1) and "Blood of Amethyst" (Book 2) plus 2 bonus stories in the series never before published: “Dancing to the Grave” (Book 3) and "The Amethyst Tower" (The Final Chapter). Whiskey Creek Press released the collection in September. I adored this series and I’m not ready to let it go, so there will definitely more coming in the future. Find out more about the rest of the books, and register to be notified of releases, in the Woodcutter’s Series here:

From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building} is my follow-up to First Draft in 30 Days. It became available in September. Find out more about my writing reference titles here:
"Perfect Cadence" is the first in my contemporary romance Kaleidoscope Series, was published in Christmas Wishes, A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology in September 2008. Find out more about the rest of the books in the series here:

I love all things series, so it’s a very rare thing for me to write a single book that has no connection to others I’ve done. That was the case with my Incognito Series, the first seven books of which have won and finaled for several awards and received multiple 5 star reviews.

The series premise is based on the world’s most covert organization, the Network (fictional, of course!), with underground headquarters in Chicago beneath a front technology company called ETI. Having unchallenged authority and skill to disable and destroy criminals, the Network takes over where regular law enforcement leaves off in the mission for absolute justice. The price for that justice is high, requiring the life of every man and woman who serves—no turning back. Once you belong to the Network, there’s no escape. There is no life and no love, only duty. These operatives truly live in the shadows.

Undercover Angel, Book 7 of the series, was released October 1, 2008 and received The Long and Short Of It’s Best Book rating (their highest), a 5 angel review and the FAR Recommended Read Award, 5 stars and featured review status from Manic Readers, and 4 ½ stars from Romantic Times.

Second in Network command, Captain Shannon McKee leads the organization with an unfeeling, iron fist, just as her father did before her. Yet, when the opportunity comes to take down the most notorious drug dealer in history, she goes after her heart’s desire—to utterly destroy the man who killed her younger brother. But Mareno Ortega isn’t at all what Shannon expects him to be. He’s intelligent, attractive, charming, shy...and, unbelievably, a doting father to his two children. Shannon has more reason to hate this criminal than anyone else, yet she finds herself confused by his contradictions. Is he a man with no options, playing a game he desperately wants out of? Or is he an enigma, trying to seduce her in a cat and mouse chase she can’t win? The only man alive who can stop this undercover angel from her suicide mission is the Navy SEAL she served with and nearly lost her heart to, Captain Ron Blair, currently Network Master Strategist. But can Ron save her...from herself? Find out more about the Incognito Series here:

The Fifteenth Letter and Romantic Notions, Books 3 and 4 of the Falcon’s Bend Series, written with Chris Spindler, will be published December 2008. Look for the reissues of Books 1 and 2 and Falcon’s Bend Case Files, Volume I (The Early Cases) February 2009. Falcon’s Bend Cases Files, Volume II, a new novella collection, will be out Summer 2009. Find out more here:

How do you go about developing your characters?

I was recently talking about something similar with a critique partner, who asked me what the different is between a book that practically writes itself and one that comes hard. I think the answer to that comes down to characters. Even if I don’t have a book sitting in my head, brewing on a backburner for a long time, if I connect with the characters, I can write them as if I’m just following a movie those same characters are showing in my head. The writing of the book is simplicity itself then.

But when characters are hiding and won’t show me their internal workings, it’s harder to write a story. When characters hide, I do a lot of character sketches. I also believe that there’s a vital need for cohesive characters, settings and plots, and that’s part of what makes a book work and what makes one complicated to unknot.

When the characters come to life like that—so I can see them, hear them, know exactly what they’d say, do and think in every single situation—is different for every project, and I wish I could pinpoint why some characters wait so long to come out and reveal themselves. It would make each project so much easier.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Summers are the most difficult part of writing. I’m a person who wants to work, but when my son is out of school for the summer, it’s very difficult to find time to do that. I need to be alone when I write. Generally, I try to work on outlines and revision exclusively in the summer, mostly trying to relax and get my brain fertile again.

Finishing a book and having readers love it as much as I do is the most exciting and rewarding part of being a writer.

Describe your writing space for us!

I have a gorgeous cherry wood armoire that’s so cluttered, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to close it. It has a file cabinet (piled with works in progress) on the left and a credenza (piled with works in progress) on the right. My published books are displayed beautifully in a special alcove near the door of my office. Above my stereo is a plague that says, “Home is where your story begins.” My hundreds of CDs (gotta have music!) bracket the door up to the attic, where I finally have the home library I’ve always wanted.

I can't imagine you have time to fit in much leisure time, but what do you like to do when you're not writing?

I need to be able to write or work a full eight hours on weekdays to be truly happy, but I do enjoy designing websites, graphics, and cover art. My favorite things to do non-writing related are extremely simplistic and probably boring to most. Take walks with my family. Read all day. Relax with my family and watch movies. Watch the snow fall. Shop. I’m a simple girl who gets all the vicarious thrills she needs through her writing, so I need little else to be content.

Karen, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with blog readers here today. Anything else you’d like to mention?

Readers can visit me at:

If you would like to receive my free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win my monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Two Holiday Contests!

"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." ~Mary Ellen Chase

I promised to tell you about the giveaways Samhain is holding this month, so here's the first: click here to see exactly how you can win a variety of ebooks by hunting for Christmas ornaments on participating authors' websites. And here's the second: Samhain is also GIVING AWAY 60 print books this month! Click here to find out the details about that contest too.

Hey, by the way, I'm organzing a cookie exchange at work, but I need some new EASY holiday cookie recipes. If you have any foolproof ones, could you email them to me at Thanks!

Current Word Count for Entwined: 17,338

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: Sometimes she retches in the middle of the day, for no reason but that she misses him so much she must either vomit or die.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good News!!!

"The test of any man's character is how he takes praise." ~Anonymous

You'll notice my word count for Entwined isn't much changed from yesterday's number, since I spent most of the weekend working on Summer's Song. Still, any progress is progress, right?

The exciting news for the day, though, is that One Night in Memphis is an EPPIE finalist! For those not in the know, EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) is a network/support group for ebook authors, and each year they sponsor the EPPIE awards, in a variety of categories. Contemporary Romance had 60+ entries this year, so for my book to be one of five finalists is a huge accomplishment. I'm thrilled!

I'm even more thrilled because the story has - get this - two kisses in it. No sex, no even-close-to-bedroom scenes, because there's a whole lot of action and it only takes place over one night, after all. But in this time when erotic romance has been cornering the market, it's reassuring to know that romance novels without sex do in fact still please readers. I have to decide if I'm going to the conference/awards ceremony in March - it's in Las Vegas. Hey, it's a tax write-off, right?

Current Word Count for Entwined: 16,221

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: She has nothing but the heart she gave him, and that, of course, is gone now too.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Tao of Publishing

"50 percent of the factors affecting your career could be totally out of your control." ~Axelrod and Long

There's a very interesting article in the December issue of Romance Writers Report titled "The Tao of Publishing" and written by Steven Axelrod and Julie Ann Long.

In a (very small) nutshell, the article talks about how creative success is impossible to predict. Actors, musicians, writers - they all strive to produce not only the best work they can, but the work that will take the world by storm and outshine all others that came before it. Interestingly enough, however, studies show that the quality of a work does not necessarily predict its popularity, because consumers make decisions socially rather than independently. In fact, one online experiment set up different music-sharing websites where users could download music and then rank how much they liked certain songs. Without exception, users were influenced by what other users thought, because on the control sites, where they couldn't see other users' ranks but only their own, completely different songs ended up being the most popular.

The users also ranked the songs in order of quality. Take a look at these results: "Overall, a song in the Top 5 in terms of quality had only a 50 percent chance of finishing in the Top 5 of success."

It's the ol' Twilight/Harry Potter effect: readers hear about how much other readers like the books, so they go out and buy them. And whether or not the books are well written, it doesn't matter. Once the buzz gets going, people buy what other people are reading. Period. Axelrod and Long's conclusion is that authors cannot possibly predict what is going to sell or which promotional efforts really pay off, so we should just relax and "go along for the ride." We should write the best story we can, promote as we see fit and can afford, but not get caught up in sales trends and Amazon rankings and such.

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I can do that. Maybe I'm too much of a Type A personality, but it's frustrating to know that talent and hard work aren't really what pay off in the end. It's simply luck and timing. I suppose that's the way the world works, but still. When mediocre books become best sellers and wonderful gems never even get published, it seems as though there's something wrong.

What do you think? Would you be able to let go and just write, regardless if you never got a publishing contract or sold another book or made a best-seller list? Is it worth dwelling on promotional efforts, or should I just forget about it and see where Fate takes my writing career?

Current Word Count for Entwined: 15,664

Yesterday's Fave Sentence: If he stops breathing, if he stuffs the screams back down his throat, perhaps the people in the rooms around him will not hear his world fall apart, bit by bit, until insanity takes over.