Saturday, March 28, 2009

Welcome to the Final Writers' Weekend!

Can you believe it's already the last weekend in March?? Today and tomorrow will be the final authors featured here for Small Press Month...then Wednesday, April 1st, I'll announce the winner of the prize package.

So get your comments in!

Today I'm chatting with Wild Rose Press author P.L. Parker. Enjoy!

P.L., welcome to Allie's Musings! Tell us a little about the woman behind the author.

In my real life, I am a legal assistant with a downtown law firm in Boise, Idaho. I am married to my best friend and fan, proud mother of 3 sons and a baby granddaughter who is just amazing.

My life is full of varying interests. I find it hard to take just a few minutes for myself. I write during my breaks at work and, on Fridays, I e-mail the week's work home and enter it into my manuscript. It's a great way for me to write. I keep a screen open and if a good idea hits me, I switch over and write it down. By the end of the week, I usually have at least four pages to add to the total. I have several friends at work who follow along, giving suggestions, and always eager to read the next "chapter." It's great to have my critique group right at work.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

From my fellow authors, I have garnered a great deal of information on the basics of writing. It's amazing what one can learn by just lurking in e-mail conversation and I am a great lurker. I have learned so much these past three years and, to my great excitement, finally figured out what the initials "POV" meant. As a fledgling author, these bits of information are invaluable.

Tell us a little about your most recent works.

Besides my two novels already in print ("Fiona" and "Riley's Journey"), I have two upcoming releases. My third novel, “Aimee’s Locket” is about a young woman who is thrown back through time to 1847 and the start of the Oregon Trail. I also have a shorter story, “Heart of the Sorcerer,” again about time travel and involves a painting on the wall which is the portal to the past. We are in the final edits stage of "Heart of the Sorcerer" and that one should be released soon. I also have a short story, “Prophecy’s Bride,” released in the Free Reads program with TWRP. I recently completed the first draft of my fourth novel, "Absolution," (a vampire story) and am in the edits stage of that one. Due to the many requests I've received, my next project will be a sequel to "Riley's Journey," centering on the female tracker, Geena.

Do you have any tips for developing characters?

I was heavily involved in theater in my school years and I think that background helped me in formulating my characters' personalities. When I am writing, I mentally act out what that person would do or say in a specific situation (from my perspective) and try to put it down on paper as best I can.

Anything else you'd like to mention today?

I’ve gone far above my expectations already. I had given myself five years to try to get published and I’ve beat that, so now it’s pretty much just fighting like every other writer to be noticed on a bigger scale.

I can be contacted at or

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's a Birthday!

"A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip." ~Author Unknown

Well, it's not MY birthday. But it is my hubby's, so I have no witty or brilliant blog post written for'll have to wait for tomorrow's author interview!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's the Deal with the Cheek Kiss?

"Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism." ~Leo Buscaglia

Admittedly, this blog post has little to do with writing. It's just something that's been on my mind lately.

The cheek kiss. Now, I'm not talking European or Latin/South American culture, where it's the norm to give a kiss (at least one, usually two) on the cheek(s) for greeting.

But it wasn't until I moved to the NYC suburbs about 11 years ago that I really discovered the novelty of the cheek kiss in this country. See, where I come from originally, anyone who's saying hello or goodbye to good friends or family gives hugs. Big, warm, two-armed hugs. It's rather nice. This remained true when I moved to Ohio; mid-westerners hug too.

When I moved to downstate NY, I discovered that most people around here don't hug. Instead, they give kisses on the cheek. While this may sound like a relatively minor difference, I gotta tell you, it took some getting used to. I'd lean in for a hug, and instead I'd get a cheek pressed next to mine, with someone's lips making a kissing sound in the air beside my face. It's sort of embarrassing, when your arms are hanging out there, ready for a big ol' embrace, and the person has already moved on to air-kiss someone else. OK, once in a while, lips do make skin contact, but not that often. Mostly we're kissing the air and making smacking sounds with our mouths as a way of saying "Hey, so great to see you," or "Take care now - see you soon."

I've gotten pretty good at negotiating the cheek kiss after all this time. I've mastered the position and the timing like a native down-stater. However, I still refuse to kiss the air if I can help it; I swoop in for an honest-to-goodness peck on the cheek as often as I can.

Still, I miss the hug, I really do. There's something much warmer about that kind of greeting. It's a whole-hearted, whole-bodied commitment to the expression of hello or goodbye.

What about where you live? Cheek kiss, hug, or something else? Or nothing at all?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Kristin Callender

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Enjoy today's featured interview with new author Kristin Callender, who's chatting all about her debut mystery novel!

Hi Kristin! Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

The Truth Lies in the Dark is my first mystery and my first published novel. In it the main character, Amanda finds out that she is not who she thinks she is. She lost her memory after surving a plane crash that claimed her parents. Raised by her grandparents, she only knew what they told her about her life and family. In her quest to find her true identity she uncovers a dark secret that threatens to destroy everything, even her loving marriage. Could it be that everyone in Amanda's life knew this secret and kept it from her? Were they more involved than they are willing to admit? These are some of the questions Amanda must answer.

Sounds do you go about developing your characters?

I like to start on paper. I write down everything I imagine the characters to be; their age, family, background, etc. Once I can see them as real people it is easier for me to start their story. I keep notes on each chapter after I write them too, so I have a quick reference to look at if I get stuck. But I don't outline the whole story in advance. I have an idea in my head where I want the story to end, but I like to give the characters room to move in the story.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I have been lucky enough to have not suffered a full block, but have had many small jams. I always know what I want to write. The story is in my head like a movie on pause until I sit down at the computer. But somedays I can't sit still or the words just don't come out like I want them to. When this happen I have to get up and do something else, like start the laundry or pick up the house (you know the really glamorous stuff). If it is really frustrating me I put on my music, usually Matchbox 20, and take a walk. It helps to release some energy and then I can focus again.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

I am still figuring that out. If anyone has that answer please let me know. I love writing and under ideal conditions, meaning no one else home and completely focused, I could write all day. But I am a mom of four, a wife of one:) and I work part time as a substitute teacher. There are very few ideal condition days. Some days I force myself to write and forget about the clutter building up around me and other days I am completely devoted to all things for the family.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I start off with a pad. Once I get the characters set and the basic background of the story I go to the computer. I read in Sidney Sheldon's memoir that he never actually wrote a book. He dictated all of his stories and screenplays to someone else and they typed it. The idea of that sounds great; just rattle off the story to someone and be done. But it wouldn't work for me because I like to read and reread before I am happy with my writing. I am always trying to make sure that the words flow, at least to me.

Kristin, thanks for being here today!

I would like to take a moment to thank Allie for interviewing me for her blog. And of course, I want to thank all of her blog fans and readers for taking the time to learn about me and my book. More information can be found on my website:

The Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristin Callender is available on and is the 'Featured Book of the Month' on

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Donald Maass and The Gender Genie

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." ~Mark Twain

Here's a fun website: Gender Genie. Paste in your text (more than 500 words works best), and it will tell you whether the author is male or female. It got me right!

I always find this page of agent Donald Maass's website interesting: it's what the agency is looking for. Sometimes the concepts seem REALLY out there (time travel fantasy about a blind bike messenger, or something), but the most recent one asks for holiday submissions (looking ahead at least a year, of course). So if you have anything, maybe you should polish it off and submit it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pictures from a Book Signing

"Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant." ~Edna Ferber

Here is my favorite picture from my book signing over the weekend

Let me just point out that the store had all of our titles (yes, those are mine right in front) arranged on a table smack-dab in the front of the store. I was actually standing in the doorway to take the picture. I'd also like to point out that our table is IN FRONT OF the display of Twilight books, just behind :)

Though sales were very low, it was nice to mingle with other authors, especially fellow Samhain author Ciar Cullen. I've seen her around on the Yahoo loops for a year now (and she actually wrote a lovely review of One Night in Boston), so it was really nice to put a face with a name. She and I shared the common denominator of the night of not writing erotic romance. I gotta tell ya, it was nice to have someone else in my corner!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend Featured Author Interview: Maria Zannini

Welcome to the second author interview of the weekend...give a big hello to fellow Samhain author Maria Zannini! Rather than the standard Q&A today, though, in honor of Small Press Month, Maria's giving us her take on what makes a small press successful. Enjoy!

Swami Sez…

…I have discovered the secret of successful publishing. And I learned it from the small press publisher.

Who would have thought the small press publisher could influence the big boys in New York in such a big way? Less than a few years ago, the e-publisher was a novelty, the place to go if your work couldn't find a home in traditional publishing. Erotica was the first to gain a foothold while the big publishers looked on hungrily, too scared to dip a toe in unfamiliar markets.

Now all that's changed. Harlequin was the first of the big publishers to embrace e-publishing and use it as part of their standard practice. Today, you won't find a contract with a traditional publisher that won't negotiate for your e-rights as well. E-publishing has become a force to be reckoned with.

With the advent of e-readers, now more sophisticated than ever before, NY is beginning to understand the depth of their shortsightedness and is scurrying to catch up.

That's good news in that e-publishing is being taken seriously. The bad news is that there is more competition for many of the same readers. The small press will have to fight to retain its market hold against deeper pockets.

Swami Maria is not too worried about this though. Stable and respected e-publishers like Samhain and Ellora's Cave have done a remarkable job at maintaining reader loyalty.

Smart swami that I am, most of my mentalist powers are derived more from observation than doing the Drunken Pony stance. --What, there's no Drunken Pony stance? Sheesh! Details!

Anyway, having studied Samhain in particular, I think I have learned the secret of their publishing success.

I will share that secret with you, but you need to be in that pure transcendental state of mind. (Hey, you with the Appletini. Put that down!)

Okay, now. Ready?

Are you transcending?

Just kidding. The only thing transcendental about me is my 401K. I'm pretty sure that one's flown the coop. But I'll tell you the secret anyway.

After spending the better part of a year studying Samhain, I've deduced that the reason they've become so successful is due in large part to their interaction with the public. Samhain has relationships with its readers.

That relationship is the trough that nurtures an idea, an author, a book, or an organization and makes it turn viral. Viral is a good thing in this sense. It means that a total unknown can go around the world with the click of a mouse button.

Samhain is constantly reaching out to its readers via chats, contests, appreciation weeks and blogs. They encourage discussion on their forums, and moderators go above and beyond to make you feel welcome. Their website is easy to navigate and a live person actually answers you when you email them.

It's a simple equation, but solving for 'viral' is a lot harder when you have to put it into practice. My swami brain tells me that the way to Nirvana is to start slow. Begin with the relationships you already have. Make them feel welcome on your blog, forum, newsletter or website. And always deliver more than you promised.

Relationships don't happen overnight, but good ones last a lifetime. It's a lesson the big boys are learning fast.

Swami sez…reach out to your readers wherever they hang out.

Swami Maria no longer meditates in public ever since that unfortunate incident in Rampur but she does blog regularly at Be sure to add yourself to her followers list because in April she is going to have one bodacious book launch contest.

Book launch, you say? Why, yes! TOUCH OF FIRE gets physical on April 28, 2009. It's a futuristic fantasy set on an Earth that knows only magic. Here's the tagline: He's a scoundrel and a thief. She's a woman on a mission. They're the perfect team--if they don't kill each other first.

Order the book now and be the first cool kid on your block to read it during lunch break. If you are too sophisticated for print, by all means get the e-book. Write me, write Amazon reviews. I'd really like to know what you thought of it.

I guess that's it. I am all out of swami goodness. Visit me on my blog and let's chat. Swami is listening. You can also follow me on Twitter or my website.

Touch Of Fire is at:
Barnes & Nobles
My Bookstore and More

Read an excerpt at Samhain Publishing