Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Available! And It's PROOF!

I posted about it on Facebook first, and then on Google+. Then I went and tweeted about it. I saved the blog post for last.  I didn't really know how to word my little announcement.

Proof that it's possible!
You see, it was a magical moment, seeing my name on Amazon for the very first time. But then, it should be magical, right? It's an anthology of magic stories. And mine followed Barnabas searching ever so desperately for his magic.

But there must have been real magic at play. Nothing else explains how my story found itself rubbing shoulders with those written by some highly skilled and talented authors.

I achieved something that not all writers achieve. I'm obviously thrilled. But I'm also humbled because there are so many worthy writers who haven't yet been published.

And to that crowd of deserving writers still reaching for the dream I say this:

Don't you dare stop reaching!

Some get lucky right out of the gate. Others struggle years before finding success. And for a few, the accomplishment comes posthumously.

And I can hear some asking, "So which is this? An announcement or a pep talk?" I honestly don't think the two can be separate. Yes, I'm announcing that the anthology containing my short story is available. And that is proof the goal is attainable. So Do Not Give Up!

My story is called "Barnabas" and appears in Spells: Ten Tales of Magic. It's currently available on:
Amazon UK

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For NaNo Participants...

Although I will not be "officially" participating in NaNoWriMo this November, I wanted to extend a few words to those who are.

First and foremost, you have my admiration for undertaking this challenge.  I wish you success and will be cheering you along from the sidelines.

Secondly, I wrote this post to provide a little encouragement for each day of the challenge.  I hope it is of benefit.

30 Thoughts for 30 Days
  1. A prerequisite of success is believing that you will succeed.
  2. Only you can project your imagination's content into mine.
  3. You owe it to yourself to prove to yourself that you can do it.
  4. The knowledge and experience you gain from this endeavor can be gained no other way.
  5. A prolific writer prioritizes writing time.
  6. The words you write today may well be someone's inspiration tomorrow.
  7. Remember Dune. Fear is the mind killer. Accomplishments breed confidence.
  8. This is your story.  Only you can do it justice. 
  9. Foster creativity and determination in equal measure.
  10. Every word you write is an investment. It's one word closer to finishing the book and to publication. Even words you cut are a learning experience.
  11. Your strength as a storyteller builds with every word you write.
  12. Discover when you're most productive and make that time available.
  13. Spend time with those things (or people) that inspire you.
  14. Put away your thesaurus until December.
  15. Measure your success by courage and effort, not distance.
  16. Achievement without challenge is hollow.
  17. Self-discipline is the result of self-determination.
  18. A writer's mettle is revealed when the goal seems unattainable.
  19. Someone, somewhere, sometime will enjoy the words you're about to write.
  20. Inspiration grows best in the soil of desire and determination.
  21. Create your world so readers can vacation there.
  22. Don't berate yourself for falling.  Falling is acceptable.  Refusing to get back up isn't.
  23. Progress (and a novel) is made one word at a time.
  24. Words have power. When written, that power is eternal.
  25. The only time an effort truly fails is when the effort was never made.
  26. Your future is determined by the dreams you choose to pursue.
  27. Create now.  Edit later.
  28. Accepting this challenge was a choice. Completing it is also.
  29. Reward yourself for your accomplishments. You've earned it.
  30. Wonderful things begin when writers make it to "The End."
Additionally, I've linked a few of my previous posts that may encourage or aid you in this challenging endeavor.

I invite everyone, NaNo participants or not, to add their own words of encouragement to those brave writers rising to this challenge.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Surfing

Wax your boards and ride the waves.  Great links follow.

Manuscript Revisions – Let’s Draw Some Blood  (Excellent article!)

Enjoy the surf!
Blog Widgets and Marketing Materials for Authors

Writing Better Descriptions

Three Reasons to Write the Premise BEFORE You Write the Book

Eight Tips That Will Help You Rock Your Blog

10 Quick & Easy Things You Can Do To Help Your Favourite Amazon Author

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online

Ten Indisputable Signs That You’re a Writer

10 Tips for Beginning Writers

Novel Approaches: 10 Books That Became Great Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films

In other news:

I have a post scheduled for Tuesday in honor of NaNoWriMo participants. 30 thoughts of encouragement: one for each day of the challenge.

I've decided to embark upon the monumental task of upgrading my Magic Muse writing workbench software to a modern dotNet version. I'm considering a number of enhancements. The process will be long and no doubt compete against my writing time. Wish me well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Authors of Spells: Ten Tales of Magic

Rayne Hall gave me the great pleasure and honor of revealing the lineup of authors contributing to this soon-to-be-released anthology. I am so pleased to be in the company of so many magnificent writers!

Coming Soon!

CIARA BALLINTYNE is a writer of high fantasy short stories and novels. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and practises law by day. You can learn more about her and her fiction at her website,

CJ BURRIGHT writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She is a member of RWA, including the Future, Fantasy & Paranormal Chapter, and lives in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.

T. D. EDGE won a Cadbury's fiction competition at age 10 but only did it for the chocolate. He has published several children's/YA books (writing as Terry Edge) with Random House, Scholastic, Corgi and others. Terry was the first UK writer to attend the 6-week Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in New Hampshire. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Aeon, Realms of Fantasy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Flash Fiction Online. In May 2012, he won the New Scientist/Arc Magazine Science Fiction short story competition, and his story, “Big Dave's in Love” appears in Arc 1.2. Terry has been a street theatre performer, props maker for the Welsh National Opera, sign writer, school caretaker, soft toys salesman and professional palm-reader. He is also proud of being the youngest-ever England Subbuteo Champion, and one of his current writing projects is “Subbuteo for the Soul”. He lives in London.

RAYNE HALL lives in a dilapidated English seaside town of former Victorian grandeur where she writes subtle horror and outrageous fantasy fiction. Her short stories have been published in many magazines, e-zines and anthologies, including NocturnalOoze, The Deepening, Byzarium, Fate&Fortune, AlienSkin, True Story, Fiction Feast, Read by Dawn Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3. She has had more than 30 books published in several genres under several pen names, including the dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer. Her editing experience in the publishing industry spans three decades. She is also the editor of other books in the Ten Tales series. She teaches online classes for writers: Her website is You can follow her on Twitter: @raynehall

JEFF HARGETT is a grandfather from North Carolina with an imagination full of magic and dragons. He stays young and fit by dining on epic fantasy whenever possible. He’s had a couple short stories place in competitions, but prefers his fiction in novel-length doses. He is currently writing an epic fantasy series that he hopes will be published while he can still wield a pen. He’s a firm believer that when this world doesn’t suit you, you should write a world that does. He enjoys interacting with readers and other writers and spends far too much time loitering around his blog

DOUGLAS KOLACKI began writing while stationed with the Navy in Naples, Italy, published numerous stories in San Diego, and recently completed a cross-country trek to his new home in Providence, Rhode Island. His short story credits include Weird Tales, Dragons Knights & Angels, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates and Big Pulp. His published novels are Elijah's Chariot and On the Eighth Day, God Created Trilby Richardson.

DAVID D. LEVINE is a lifelong SF reader whose midlife crisis was to take a sabbatical from his high-tech job to attend Clarion West in 2000. It seems to have worked. He made his first professional sale in 2001, won the Writers of the Future Contest in 2002, was nominated for the John W. Campbell award in 2003, was nominated for the Hugo Award and the Campbell again in 2004, and won a Hugo in 2006 (Best Short Story, for Tk'Tk'Tk). His short story Titanium Mike Saves the Day was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2007, and a collection of his stories, Space Magic from Wheatland Press, won the Endeavour Award in 2009. In January of 2010 he spent two weeks at a simulated Mars base in the Utah desert, which led to a highly-regarded slide show and The Mars Diaries, a self-published hardcopy collection of his and his crewmates' blogs. His story Citizen-Astronaut, a science fiction novelette partially based on his "Mars" experience, won second prize in the Baen Memorial Contest, was published in Analog, and came in second in the 2011 AnLab Readers' Poll. David lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Kate Yule, with whom he edits the fanzine Bento, and their website is at

TARA MAYA loves rampaging robots, undersea unicorns, magic gone amuck, science turned apocalyptic, pirates dueling gladiators, kittens, cannibals and all things weird and wonderful. She has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia, pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies.

She has studied ancient and modern history, sometimes even in school. She is the author of The Unfinished Song, an epic fantasy series in which two lovers are caught between the schemes of the Fae and the Deathsworn, and Conmergence, a collection of speculative fiction short stories. She blogs at Tara Maya’s Tales:

CHERIE REICH is a writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Her other works include the Nightmare series, the Gravity trilogy, and the Foxwick Chronicles series. She is a member of Valley Writers and the Virginia Writers Club. For more information, please visit her website at and her blog at

PAMELA TURNER divides her time between writing paranormal and urban fantasy and being her cat’s scratching post. She published her first short novel, Death Sword, with Lyrical Press in 2011. A lover of fantasy, horror, and mystery, she’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, Sisters in Crime and a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association. Her stories have been featured in Bites: Ten Tales Of Vampires, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft and Scared: Ten Tales of Horror. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, photography, playing chess (although she’s lousy at the game), physics, aviation, the Tarot, and hanging out in cemeteries.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Might Be a Muse Abuser If...

As many of you know, I finished drafting my first manuscript, The Bonding, back in April.  Several kind and gracious readers endured my wordiness and provided fantastic feedback. (My sincerest gratitude to each of you!)  After digesting that feedback, I began intense revisions and editing.

It is now essentially complete.
A map from the book

And as I turned my focus to beginning the sequel, my mind tarried on the process of creating the initial draft.  And on my muse.  I came to the realization that while drafting The Bonding I had done something unpardonable.  I had abused my muse.

I've vowed to not make the same mistake again. And like a reprimanded schoolboy, a hundred times I shall write.
I will not abuse my muse.
I will not abuse my muse.
I will not abuse my muse.
So how does one abuse one's muse?  And how can you tell if you're guilty of it?  The ways are many.  And the consequences severe.

You might be a muse abuser if...
  • You stop drafting to reach for the thesaurus.  Word choices are important, but not while you're drafting.  I've concluded that it's more important to get the essence of scene and plot and character down than it is to find that perfect word.  Trust me on this.  Your thesaurus isn't going anywhere; your ideas might.
  • You fail to write down your muse's ideas.  We're convinced we'll remember every nuance of that newly discovered plot development, amazing character or dynamite scene.  The muse gave us gold.  How could we forget it?  Yet we get home, sit at the computer and realize we've forgotten the very detail that made it so perfect.
  • You vow to begin writing just as soon as: you've finished checking email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, GoodReads and your blog comments.  Muses are temperamental.  They don't like to be kept waiting.  Ignore them too long and they'll leave.
  • You reject an idea out of hand.  Even the most ludicrous idea can be made to work if you'll let the muse think on it for a spell.  And once it works, you've opened a world of possibilities to explore.
  • You self-edit while you draft.  This is a biggie!  Not only does this hamper the flow of creativity, it can jumble consistency, cut scenes short, or alter the feel and flavor of a scene.  It can derail dialog and even change a character's voice mid conversation.  Draft first.  Edit later.
  • You give up and stop writing.  This is muse abuse at its worst.  Forgiveness for this only comes when you've apologized in earnest and resumed writing with renewed dedication.
These are but a few manifestations of muse abuse.  Plenty more exist.  Do yourself a favor.  Learn prudence.  Be wise.  Don't abuse your muse!

Have you ever abused your muse?  Care to share? 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Write a Trilogy by S. B. Knight

 Why Write a Trilogy?

Perhaps I bit off more than I can chew. Maybe I overstepped and took on too much. But maybe, just maybe, I’m on the right track and moving in the right direction. Ah, but here’s the twist, there are no right directions or right tracks…there is only the direction you’re moving and the track you’re on. Why do I say that? Well, some authors believe it is crazy to write a trilogy as your debut work. It is common knowledge that publisher prefer debut novels to be well under 100,000 words (70,000 is the sweet spot). Everyone has their own thoughts on what makes a safe and smart debut novel. So, why did I go with the trilogy? Why did I ignore the words of others and attempt to blaze my own path?

Before I get to that I need to share a little about me first. I’m a big time fan of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and creatures of the night. No, I haven’t always been like that but, with age, we discover new things about ourselves. The thing is, vampire movies and novels were moving them in a direction away from the things that made them the apex monster to that of mysterious lover. Werewolves are following the same path but fortunately there are authors who are holding true to their basic essence. The bottom line is, and this is strictly my opinion, many of the monster movies and novels are becoming redundant and/or watered down. I see this as a challenge, an opportunity to test myself by attempting to write a unique and intriguing story. All authors want to do this but let’s face it, it’s tough to accomplish with a topic so thoroughly written about as vampires.

I knew I wanted to write a novel and I wanted to start with a vampire novel but I had no idea where to start. Fortunately for me there was a special on the History channel about the top 10 most notorious female serial killers. Of course, Elizabeth Bathory made the list and as I watched her story a small detail grabbed my attention. I started making notes centered on that detail. I researched Bathory and her history, plus I researched vampire lore from around the globe. A story took shape and expanded. The excitement was insane. I started writing as soon as I could see the story in my mind. Born of Blood was intended to be a standalone novel, however, the more I wrote the more the story grew. Remember what I mentioned before? I knew the story would go well beyond 100,000 words but the true question was – could I finish it in two books? Typically you don’t see a two book series so I stopped writing and picked up my note pad to make notes. The story unfolded with flourish and soon I saw everything unfold and become The Blood Chronicles trilogy.

I will be honest; it would be easier to write a standalone novel. Take, for example, Drago’s Revenge which is the sequel to Born of Blood and book 2 of The Blood Chronicles. In order for a trilogy to work properly the three books must connect. They must feed each other and move the story to the next book. Now, some novels have the feel of a standalone novel because the characters carry the story from one book to the next. A good example of this would be Terry Brooks works. Drago’s Revenge is similar to that but also carries the story itself which makes things difficult. You see, the middle book should tie up some loose ends but not enough that the third book suffers. It is walking a tightrope between keeping the reader involved and leaving some for the final book. I think I accomplished that with Drago’s Revenge. Would I do it again? Would I write a trilogy again? Absolutely! In fact, I plan to.

About SB Knight - Drago’s Revenge is the next step as SB Knight continues to pursue his passion for writing novels that deliver both thrills and chills. His desire is to improve the craft he loves with each novel he writes. He strives to deliver fresh, new ideas and stories in the Dark Fantasy genre. Currently he is writing the third novel of The Blood Chronicles.

When not writing, SB Knight enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors. During a normal week he can be found on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and his blog The New Author. Easily approached, SB Knight enjoys chatting with readers and fans alike. Information about SB Knight, his books, and upcoming projects can be found at

About Drago’s Revenge - The birth of a child is a time for joy and celebration. For Sam and Reba, it is a time for concern and worry. Concern for what could be and worry for what lurks in the shadows. They both know Reba’s baby, Christian, is special. But Drago waits in the darkness, and he, also, knows how special the child is. He knows what the child’s birth means. Now Drago stalks them, waiting for his moment to strike and claim Christian for his own evil purposes. As he unleashes his sinister plan, Sam and Reba fight to survive and keep their newborn out of his clutches.

Chased by a group of would-be vampires manipulated by Drago, Sam and Reba are forced to abandon their home and find sanctuary in once forgotten locations. But they are not alone in this fight as family and friends arrive. Will it be enough?

Life will be lost, blood will be spilled, painful memories, and emotions will torment minds…all part of Drago’s revenge.

SPECIAL - From now until October 30 you can PRE-ORDER Drago's Revenge for $4.76 (that's 20% off retail price). PLUS, when you pre-order you get Born of Blood for free! That's right, save 20% AND get a free ebook! Pre-order Drago's Revenge today!

Website -
Blog -
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MuseItUp -

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Surfing

Enjoy the links!

What Fantasy Writers Can Learn From Horror

Paul Dorset wrote a nice 9-part series on why Scrivener is his writing tool of choice.

A bit of advice to writers

Write into Print is running an interesting "Self editing 4 fiction" series. Four have been published including: the Intro, Show AND Tell, Characterization and exposition, and Point of View.

I've also been tagging along with Chris Fries on the multi-part Quest for "Story" which--thus far--includes: Strength of Character, Forging the Chains, Whisper, Growl or Bark?, In the Beginning, and A Con Artist.

A comprehensive (3,000+) Mythical Creatures List

In other news, I've updated my progress bar for The Bonding. I've been Marianas Trench deep into revisions for the past couple weeks.  (Hence the lack of posts.)  I've killed my darlings by the thousands!  Please forgive my hyperbole, but I've cut word count by almost 20,000, eliminated and combined characters, condensed the plot and performed liposuction on my prose.  There may be hope for this manuscript yet!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Rules of Writing by Catherine McLean


Many writers have heard W. Somerset Maugham's axiom about there being three rules of writing but no one knows what they are. I've come to the conclusion that, for marketability, my three rules of storytelling are: clarity, brevity, and believability.

Clarity trumps all "rules." After all, the goal in storytelling is to provide a tale that readers will immerse themselves in so they can enjoy the emotional roller coaster ride they crave. Which means, every word, sentence, and paragraph has to be clear and easily understood. No stopping even for a nanosecond to puzzle out who did what to whom and how, or why, it was done.

It's also said by experts that most first drafts can be cut by fifty percent because they are stuffed with fluff, purple prose, and worthless wordage. Fluff runs the gauntlet from prologues to information dumps, from lengthy descriptions to back histories. Worthless wordage includes unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, unimportant qualifying words, scenes that would be better as exposition, exposition that should be a scene, pontificating, author intrusions, and blatant telling.

This happens because writers fail to understand they needed that information to write the story (to discover who their characters were and what problems they faced). However, perhaps only ten percent will be needed in the story itself to provide motivation and validate character and actions.

Clarity means short sentences are easier to read then longer ones clogged with prepositional phrases and clauses.

Clarity means using concrete details, not abstracts, i.e., not a dog but a Doberman; not a red hat but a crimson flurry of feathers masquerading as a pillbox hat.

Which brings me to: brevity, the soul of wit–and wisdom. Brevity is the ability to write with clarity but to do it with a minimum of words. Brevity is picking vivid nouns and action verbs to convey meaning, emotion, and imagery. Brevity means not writing about a war but writing about one person's experience with that war.

Brevity even amounts to "killing off your darlings" by eliminating minor and prop characters so one character multitasks.

And now for believability. In nonfiction, believability utilizes facts and research (the documentation) that supports a premise, an idea, or a hypotheses. In fiction, believability is the means of getting a reader to suspend disbelief and to believe that magic exists, that there are such things as vampires and mermaids, or that space ships can travel faster than the speed of light.

Yet, nothing shouts amateur writing and storytelling like a character doing something without reason or motivation. Inattention to this type of believability comes from not knowing the depths of a character's core values, most deep-seated fears, lusts, hopes, and joys. Thus characters are "flat," two-dimensional puppets.

For success in writing well (and for marketability), clarity, brevity, and believability must work together so the reader can enjoy the story from beginning to end.

When I wrote Karma and Mayhem, believability was my biggest concern. After all, how could Tienan have two souls? How should he react when he finds out his birthright soul has a soul?

As for Janay, the ex-peacekeeper-soldier who falls in love with Tienan, brevity was a priority because it would take hundreds of thousands of words to do justice to what happened in the Valley of Rathe, or how she acquired two twice-blessed dirks with minds of their own, or her ability to converse with angels and see demons. I knew her past, but I strove for the brevity and clarity to reveal only what was absolutely necessary for her motivations, dialogue, and actions to be believable.

It was only after the big issues of believability and brevity were addressed in the manuscript that clarity came into play to refine the work for publication.

So, what are your three rules for writing?


P.S. I want to thank Jeff for hosting me today and to announce the Official Online Book Launch Party for Karma and Mayhem will be October 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST at Jeff, and you, his readers, are the first to know that the grand prize at the party will be a copy of the original recipe for 'Choke-berry Shalamiz' (used in Chapter 11) that a chef created especially for my story. Details will be posted on Sunday, October 7 at


Karma and Mayhem – He's a warlock with two souls and karma issues. She's mayhem personified. When the two face a cauldron of murder, demons, and witches, is their love more powerful than death? Published by and available there and at other e-book outlets.