Thursday, March 26, 2015

EVENT: Pennwriters 2015 Conference Schedule


The schedule is out for the Pennwriters 2015 Conference - Building Bridges.

Here is where you can find me officially, but make sure to stop and say hello anytime during the weekend!

FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 - Published authors’ lunch & retreat with Jane Friedman - Ohio
5:30 - Cocktails - Salon A, B, C Foyer
6:00 – 8:15 - Dinner & keynote address with Ridley Pearson- Salon A, B, C

SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2015
8:00 – 9:00 - Breakfast/General meeting - Three Rivers Ballroom
9:05 – 10:00 - Heidi Ruby Miller – Science Fiction in Thrillers - Robinson
12:10 - 1:40 - Lunch, awards & speaker Don Helin - Three Rivers Ballroom
4:15 - 5:30 - Authors’ tea and book signing - Hospitality Suite

SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2015
11:30 – 12:30 - Closing ceremonies - Hospitality Suite

Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Deanna Dee

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
Pop culture. It’s kind of what I write about. That said, I do enjoy school. I’ll eventually get my doctorate because I’m a glutton for punishment…or something.

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Life. So many funny, geeky things happen all the time. I go out in the world and see something that’s vaguely geeky. BAM—book fodder.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I do something in-between. I start with an opening scene, a closing scene-ish, and a general direction. Then, I write and let the wind take me where it will. That works, and I’m keeping it.

13. Celebrity crush.
Orlando Bloom with the long hair and pointy ears, much to my co-cap’s (bf’s) chagrin. Though, he has long hair, so maybe he’s not so upset.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Douglas Adams, Ernest Cline, Kevin Hearne, Cora Carmack. The first three are geeks like me, so it’s a no-brainer how they influenced me. Cora Carmack is my fav new adult author. She made me realize that NA could be light and fun, and I ran with that idea.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
I have a DVD shelf in my room. It is full of Disney movies. Enough said. :)

Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. Nerd culture and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that. Her debut novel of gamer romance is Critical Hit-On.

Roll for attraction.

Molly Moreau used to be a geek with the best of them—role playing games, multi-user dungeons, trading cards—the works. Then she found her long-time boyfriend in a dark corner with a girl dressed as Lara “boobs and guns” Croft. That was it for the relationship and for her geekiness. After moving back home, she got a job at a normal bar and grill with normal people to live a normal life. That is until Craig shows up with his RPG character sheet.

Craig Lawrence has been rolling 1s on the relationship front ever since his last girlfriend broke up with him because he apparently spent too much time playing guardian to his rebellious little sister. When he meets Molly, he wants more than anything to win her heart, and this time he’ll do anything to keep his family problems from interfering.

When fate (Molly’s best friend) brings Craig and Molly together (sets them up on a date), will this relationship roll yet another 1? Or will it score a critical hit?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

BOOK: Keys of Heaven by Adina Senft



Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can’t be resolved with Sarah’s remedies—a woman who, in Sarah’s mind, would flourish anywhere other than where she lives. Meanwhile, as Sarah’s relatives attempt a little matchmaking between her and a visiting Amish man, she struggles to let God show her His choice of partner … and not allow her friendship with her neighbor, Henry Byler, to grow into anything more.

Henry has seen some success as a potter since a major store commissioned his work for their catalog. But the trouble is they want to market him as Amish. Though he was raised in the faith and lives in Amish country, Henry has never joined church and doesn’t plan to. Which also means, despite the attraction between them, he must keep his distance from Sarah. But what will happen when Sarah and Henry are called upon to help a runaway whose Englisch family is blind to how lost their son has become? The plant Sarah calls Keys of Heaven can grow in impossible places, but it’s hard for people to find their own place, which creates quite a temptation for Sarah to take matters into her own hands …

Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church, where she was often asked by outsiders if she was Amish (the answer was no), she made her own clothes, and she perfected the art of the French braid. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty.

Writing as Shelley Bates, she was the winner of RWA’s RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, a finalist for that award in 2006, and, writing as Shelley Adina, was a Christy Award finalist in 2009. Three of her books have shortlisted for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award for book of the year. Of her fiction, publisher and industry blogger W. Terry Whalin has said, “Readers will be lost in the vivid world that [she] paints with incredible detail and masterful storytelling.”

A transplanted Canadian, Adina returns there annually to have her accent calibrated. Between books, she enjoys traveling with her husband, playing the piano and Celtic harp, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens. These days, she makes period costumes and only puts up her hair for historical events and fun.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

BOOK: Shadow Study (Soulfinders Book 5) by Maria V. Snyder


New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.


Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…

When I was in sixth grade, I learned about meteorologists and decided I wanted to be one. My visions of chasing tornados throughout the Midwest and flying through hurricanes didn't pan out. Mostly because I wasn't good at forecasting, and my grades weren't exactly stellar. Let's face it, I'm a daydreamer--always have been, always will be.

I did graduate from Penn State University and was hired as an environmental meteorologist--try and say that five times fast ;) and I started writing when bored at work. It's never a good idea to get caught just staring out the window, so I wrote my daydreams down. After fooling around with short stories, I wrote my first novel, Poison Study. It was published sixteen years later. A lesson in patience and persistence! I had caught the writing bug and Magic Study and Fire Study soon followed.

Even though I went on to earn a Masters degree in writing from Seton Hill University, I never lost my fascination with storms, which is evident in my Glass Series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass and Spy Glass), and I still consider myself an environmentalist. The green part of me comes out in both Inside Out and Outside In. Trella's world is contained inside a big metal cube and they must reuse and recycle everything. One thing they got right in one otherwise messed-up world!

My latest series is about a healer and I happily let my nurturing side take over. Touch of Power starts the series with Avry on the run in a world recovering from a devastating plague. Scent of Magic is the second book and the third, Taste of Death will be out December 2013.

Aside from a writer, I'm also a teacher and mentor for students enrolled in Seton Hill University's MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I enjoy working with aspiring writers and helping them complete their novels. I've won a half dozen awards and been on the New York Times bestseller list, but nothing compares to being the proud mentor come graduation day!

Other things I enjoy are playing volleyball, photography and traveling. I'll go anywhere at anytime - much to my mother's dismay since my husband and I frequently bring along our son and daughter on our adventures.

I love my job. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study martial arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and get a personal tour of a maximum security prison and call it all research? I'll give you a hint--not working as a meteorologist.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

BOOK: Diner Stories: Off the Menu Edited by Daniel McTaggart


My husband and some friends are in this one!

Diner Stories: Off the Menu is a collection of exciting stories and real tales, all serving up a fantastic fare about the one place we all know, love to go to, and enjoy no matter your walk of life. Cozied up inside this collection are people who love and hate, learn and squirm, and above all, eat—maybe some meals that might surprise you. Come on in and join us for a selection of great stories all garnished with sensory delights, served up on a platter of fun and imagination!

"Flying Lessons over Lunch with Saint Joseph Cooper Tina" by Eric Fritzius
"Layers and Pockets" by Karyn Cantees Stagg
"Julian's Restaurant" by Erin Nicole Cochran
"All the World's a Stage (But the Diner is my Church)" by Joey Madia
"Bleu Plate Special" by Jason Jack Miller
"The Bread Bowl" by Rich Bottles, Jr.
"Just Think about It" by Mary Lucille DeBerry
"Midnight at the Oasis" by Todd Ludy
"The Most Important Miracle" by Scott Emerson
"Genevieve from the River" by Steven Anthony George
"Words in Rain" by Vicki Crawford
"Donovan's Intuition" by Sarah B. Robinson
"White Smoke and Mirrors" by Jolene Paternoster
"Mary's Place" by Chris Leek
"Hungry for More" by Frank Larnerd
"All Night Diner" by Garland Steele
"Is Freedom on the Menu?" by Theodore Webb
"Love's Old Sweet Song" by Susanna Connelly Holstein
"Desert Diner" by Julie Cunningham
"Old Blue's Treasure" by Jennifer Dietz Weingardt
"Snapshots" by Eliot Parker
"The Slaving Hen" by Mike Mehalek
"The Last Stop" by Kathleen McClure and K. Ceres Wright
"The Teddy Bear" by Mary Lou Pratt
"Theoretical Cheese" by William F. DeVault
"Frank's Place" by Daniel McTaggart

Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK: Hard Days Hard Nights by Pat DiCesare


CHICAGO_ An illuminating backstage pass to some of the greatest concerts ever held is the grand prize winner of the 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival.

Southern California Book Festival Runner-Up Best Non-Fiction
Hard Days Hard Nights is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes story of the birth and development of modern rock concerts, as told by one of its most illustrious proponents, Pat DiCesare.

For 36 years, starting with his first show in Youngstown, Ohio with the Four Freshman to his big breakthrough promoting the Beatles concert in Pittsburgh, PA in 1964, through his last major show in 1999, Pat DiCesare ruled the Pittsburgh concert scene.

Virtually every major rock and pop act of the area from the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin to Bruce Springsteen passed through Pittsburgh during these years to perform in concerts produced and promoted by Pat DiCesare.

These are the backstage tales of those shows and how they came to be--the untold story of one of America's most beloved industries.

Pat DiCesare is widely considered to be one the fathers of the rock and roll concert business, not only in Pittsburgh, but nationwide. After an illustrious career spanning five decades he retired in 1999 to his home in Greensburg, Pennsylvania with his wife, Kathy, and they have three sons. Pat now makes numerous public speaking engagements and writes for various music and business publications. Hard Days Hard Nights is his first book.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

EVENT: Pennwriters Conference 2015 Registration


The 28th Annual Pennwriters Conference Registration is now open.

We hope that you will attend this year as our conference keeps getting better. We were voted Best Overall Conference in 2014 by Book Architects Writing Conference Awards. We've garnered a great deal of positive feedback about the content of our workshops as well as the affordability in comparison to other conferences.

This year we are in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott.

New this year!
We have a keepsake Conference T-Shirt for sale when you register. Just choose your size within the registration form, where the shirt is pictured.

Each one is $20. Please pre-order so that we can have your shirt ready with your registration packet. Shirts will not be available at the conference for sale.

When booking a room at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott, mention "Pennwriters" to receive a discount. For your convenience, their contact information is also on the registration site.

If you are coming in from out of town and need us to know the travel itinerary you have arranged, there is a place for that information as well.

Everyone is excited about all the workshops and keynote speakers, Ridley Pearson and Don Helin. If you haven't had a chance to peruse the agenda, here's the link:
Click here for the Conference Agenda

Click Here to Register for the 2015 Conference

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Looking forward to seeing you all again,

Carol Silvis

Monday, February 23, 2015




1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
In my audio drama series HG World, one character is a survivor of a worldwide zombie catastrophe. He is considered a hero by the generations who inherited the world he saved. Now an old man with a fading, increasingly unreliable memory, he tells the story of how a small group discovered the cause of the zombie plague and - totally by accident - how to end it. In the middle of the action Ken Peters proves to be a bright but troubled everyman who grew up dirt poor and angry at the world. His life actually improves because, as he reflects, he was promoted from running squatters out of slums to driving cargo trucks full of corpses to a mass grave site twice a day. He could have become an evil bastard, particularly once the rich and privileged who abused him are reduced to his level of scrounging to survive, but he found purpose, even a noble cause in the apocalypse.

I loved writing the older Ken character and letting him weave the story in his own sardonic, reluctantly nostalgic way. He’s the old war hero who embellishes a little to keep listeners engaged not only in the story, but just in the tiny details of that post-zombie world that grew out of his heroism. He never exaggerates his own accomplishments and. In fact, the flashbacks show the reality of his situation and we realize that the horrors of that time were far worse than Old Ken is letting on. I listened to a lot of Harlan Ellison's lectures and speeches as a basis for Ken's voice and tried to inject a bit of wonder and excitement about that deadly world. Ken is also suffering from a degenerative brain disease which begins to influence his story the closer he comes to his personal end.

It helped that an amazing actor named James Baxter Patton gave the character a unique voice. I think Ken is charming, funny, angry, a little guilty, and a bit scared that it's all coming to an end for him and that realization helps him tell his story with passion and a growing urgency as he feels his own faculties melting away.

2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
I wonder if it is the conceit of getting older, but I find it hilarious that some of the pop culture icons of my youth are now getting lifetime achievement awards or a milestone anniversary event, like the 30th Anniversary of “The Breakfast Club” this year (and “Ghostbusters” last year). TBC was a fun movie but certainly not in the same league as “Out of Africa” or “The Color Purple” which came out the same year. I’m always surprised by what we embrace as culturally relevant and what disappears within a few months of being dubbed the next biggest, most-awesome thing ever.

I believe that if something sticks around long enough, pop culture can become part of our academic or literary consideration. This applies to most forms of popular entertainment. Once upon a time, you looked to an established generation of comedians like of Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar as “legends” while The Smothers Brothers, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Lenny Bruce were young upstarts. Then they became the legends to a generation raised on The Blues Brothers, Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Martin, and Monty Python. We’re still a couple of cultural generations out when we add artists like Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Eddie Murphy, and Steven Wright. At one time, all of those acts were merely popular entertainers. What made them popular also translated to an enduring quality that exceeds the value of nostalgia.

In other words, much of today’s pop culture will influence tomorrow’s innovators and enter the history of its medium. While flashy mass-market books about the latest, faded boy band fill the remainder bins of your local galleria book store, that band may return in 20 years to fill stadiums and inspire thick hardcover retrospectives into their enduring musical legacy. We have to accept that the kids growing up on Justin Bieber will become the adults who may put him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and speak of him in the same way my generation spoke of Elvis.

Sorry for that terrifying view of the future. Did I mention I write horror?

While enduring veneration does not necessarily equate to “academic” I submit that the “elder statesmen” of popular culture inevitably become the most studied because they have always challenged us, but they change the way other artists approach their work. That influence begs the complex question, “Why?”

I believe this is because there are artists who can make you feel something and they endure because you will associate those feelings to a time and place in your life that is uniquely yours. It’s the song on the radio when you first kissed your girlfriend or the country song that made you want to punch your car stereo because you just broke up with her. Then there are others who make you feel AND think. They take you beyond the moment and the self and create a bond between you and something greater. I remember seeing Robin Williams and George Carlin in concert and details of their acts, but I can’t remember who went with me or – of the top of my head – the year I saw them. Those are the artists who are immortalized by the thoughtful discussions and essays that outlive the artists and transcend their body of work.

Of course, you have enduring, conventional work that persists in popular culture without aspiring to be more than consumable, disposable experiences. Those Spice Girls reunions won’t make us wonder “why” (except perhaps “why” it happens at all) and we’ll go to a Jimmy Buffett concert for the full Parrothead experience one can’t get listening to his Greatest Hits at a TGI Friday’s, or watch another Adam Sandler movie because an afternoon of weed and Four-Loko puts us in the mood. And that’s all cool. Even enduring phenomena like the zombie sub-genre of horror become part of college sociology, culture, and literature courses. And where I’m working on my Masters of Fine Arts at Seton Hill University, Pop Culture is academic.

So, short answer: Both.

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
A few years ago a colleague of mine in podcasting noted that I killed off 99% of the population in HG World, I murder characters every episode and subject them to constant stress and suffering (one character gets shot with more frequency than an 80s action hero), but the one scene that listeners still cringe over is the violent assault of Doreen Garrison. It happens in the seventh episode of our first season (“It’s A World of Dread and Fear”). I invite you (with caution!) to listen because doing so will make more sense of the answer. There’s something about the fact that the scene plays out in the listener’s imagination that makes it more difficult to hear than I imagine it would be to watch. Listeners frequently point to this scene as the most frightening and disturbing few minutes of the series – and that’s in a show that once fed a bad guy to a playpen full of zombie toddlers among other things.

Doreen, by her own account, is an unremarkable woman who valued her family above everything else. She’s lost all but her youngest son, Aaron and struggles to stay useful by helping a group of elderly or sick refugees at a secluded church. She’s a wonderful character voiced by the remarkable Tracy Hall. Despite her personal loss, Doreen feels an obligation to help others, recognizing that she wouldn’t be alive without the humanity and charity demonstrated by others.

The scene in question is the culmination of a difficult relationship between Doreen and another survivor, Thomas, who has also lost almost everything he loved or was important to him. Thomas is a younger man who sees Doreen as a caregiver and a leader. I’d like to believe that at one time Thomas was a decent person. But this cruel, new world taught him that decency is a terminal illness. In his twisted brain, Doreen represents a fleeting chance at something resembling normal. She comforts the refugees with her smile and laughter. She inspires others to keep fighting through her own tireless example. She treats Thomas as a human being and that recognition triggers his obsession with her. What begins as an awkward crush gets more ominous as Thomas, who was brought to life by the talented writer/voice actor Eric Avedissian, includes Doreen in his view of a world where everyone stakes claim to resources and power. Doreen becomes something he needs to survive and like all things essential to survive, they must be taken by force.

Writing that final confrontation was difficult for several reasons. It would have been easier to paint Thomas as a pure monster with no redeeming qualities. In doing so, I may as well have had Doreen eaten by zombies because there would have been no emotional resonance. In the attack, Thomas loses the last pieces of his humanity. In Doreen’s response, she chooses to act in the only way that would allow her to live, continue to protect her son, and care for the people at the church. In this act, she retains her humanity. Her actions during and after the assault do not define Doreen but they establish her as someone willing to do whatever is necessary to protect herself and her family.

Making a dire choice for a character is hard because you want there to be a positive outcome. You want to put the dropped weapon just close enough that she can reach it before it’s too late. Doreen’s character provided me a convenient “out” – she was so good with people that I could hear her reasoning with Thomas. But that wasn’t how those characters would serve their own stories. I knew I couldn’t have a convenient conversation about what makes us human and grant Thomas a quick epiphany before dinner.
The scene was never just about one person. It was about how two people process tragedy and loss in different ways. This is a show about catastrophic loss, which is often depicted in the broadest way possible because you can’t really stop to think about the true emotional impact of such a thing on people. Coming up with clever ways to dispatch walking corpses can be fun. Thinking about the previous lives each of those corpses and what they lost isn’t.

Writing Doreen was easier than Thomas. Doreen has a clear moral compass and it's only when she begins to break down to compromise her values that her voice becomes inconsistent. After this scene, she is clearly in a darker place but continues to act with integrity. Thomas struggled hard to justify what, I imagine, was still a terrible thing. In his mind taking ownership of Doreen’s body in the hope of winning the rest of her came from the same exhilarating fear he might have experienced looting for the first time or stealing a car to escape town, maybe even killing someone for the first time to avoid being killed himself. Thomas comes to us with the common attitude of “if you don’t take it, someone else will”. I think Eric understood this goal as well because his read of Thomas’ threats and ultimatums are saturated by guilt but contain just a hint of a hope.
Another challenge I faced was respecting the subject matter and avoiding presenting the scene in either a gratuitous or hyper-violent way. Ironically having only the audio makes the scene harder to control in terms of the implied violence. Tracy Hall is a rape survivor, a fact that she mentioned in our initial discussion of the script. I thought she was courageous in agreeing to do the scene and I worked with Tracy and Eric to make sure the dialogue was carried out with precision and with the sound mixer to make sure the scene painted the right picture for the mind’s eye. Even so, we edited that scene a few times before we were confident it worked.

I’m proud of the result, but I’m not looking forward to revisiting it in the script I’m working on for the final season of HG World.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I go into the woods. There’s a spot about a mile north of my house along a disused Norfolk-Southern line that cuts between Blue Mountain and Peter’s Mountain. I go there when I’m not feeling particularly creative and I sit on a pile of rocks and listen to the wind in the trees and the stream flowing parallel to the tracks. Around the time the sun sink behind Peter’s Mountain Old Man Martz comes out of the tall grass from the shadows. He carries a letter he wants me to take to his wife. Of course the letter is written on the same ether or ectoplasm that constitutes a spirit, so I transcribe what I can to my notebook. In exchange for taking the letter to his wife, Old Man Martz gives me six or seven ideas that I could use for short stories. He speaks in a whisper, so I have to get very close to him to hear. The breath from the lips of a ghost freezes the hair on my neck and burns my skin a bit. It smells like the inside of an old clothes trunk. Or maybe a coffin. When he’s done, I have to get off the pile of rocks so he can sink back into his grave.

His wife enjoys the letters. I feel a little silly reading those notes between relative strangers and I sometimes pronounce the names of their family and friends incorrectly, but when Jenna Mae rises from her grave to sit on her headstone, she sets me straight. You don’t hear the laughter of the dead so much as you feel it. It’s like a sudden chill on a warm, summer day.

She never has a message back to Old Man Martz except that she misses him from the other side of eternity.

Fun fact: Never let a ghost kiss you, even in gratitude. You may as well embrace an Arctic storm.

Otherwise, I find my inspiration like all other writers: in a catalogue issued by Schenectady Idea Mechanics, Incorporated.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I hate to admit that my earliest literary influences have been white men. Growing up, the voices that appealed to me sounded like what I wanted to sound like one day, so it makes sense that I would list Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, Douglas Adams, and Somerset Maugham. I love Dorothy Parker and Shirley Jackson, but otherwise my strongest influences represent a shameful lack of diversity.

In terms of audio drama, my earliest influences were Carlton Morse and Arch Oboler, even if I didn’t know who they were at the time I first heard their work. Of course Orson Welles for his work with the Mercury Theater and on The Shadow radio show and Douglas Adams for the mental theme park he built with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In modern audio, Dirk Maggs and KC Wayland helped me define my own voice that I want and continue to guide me toward mastering it. I also have to consider the contribution of concept or progressive rock acts like Pink Floyd and Queensryche whose concept albums were experimental forms of audio theater. If I had ANY musical skill at all, an audio musical would be a project for my next ten years. I grew up listening to The Beatles and find their later work inspiring to this day.

My biggest personal influences are personal friends who thrive despite prejudice or adversity. It is not my place to call them out here by name, but they are the ones helping to create a more diverse and inclusive world for those living with discrimination. They inspire me with ideas of selflessness and heroism against constant, sometimes dangerous social and legal conflict. We live in a country that prides itself on setting the example for personal liberty and equality to the world, yet we have so far to go in embracing it in all Americans. The people who influence me are the ones who fight every day taking the rest of us forward toward that national ideal.

Because of them, I try very hard to create diverse, engaging characters as both heroes and villains.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yes! Archer, Adventure Time, Venture Brothers, anything from DC Animation, and I’ll even watch The Simpsons if it’s on. Animation can be just as complex and meaningful as live action. I also enjoy revisiting the cartoons of my youth. Jabberjaw. Scooby Doo. Super Friends. Space Ghost. Laugh-A-Lympics. Star Trek’s animated series is a little trippy, but holds up pretty well. Of course I could watch Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner all day. I might excuse it by saying it’s an excuse to spend time with the kids, but I’ve learned never to pass up a chance to laugh along with my kids.

Jay Smith is the creator and executive producer for the Parsec Award-winning audio drama series HG World. Since 2009, Jay and his company of players and producers have been telling the story of survivors in the middle of a global zombie uprising. Now in its third season, this "satellite" production has featured dozens of actors across four continents making it a production truly on a global scale. Since its debut, episodes of HG World and its spin-off series, the Parsec finalist The Diary of Jill Woodbine and The Googies have been downloaded close to a million times.

Hidden Harbor Mysteries is a pulp era adventure with a stellar cast of voices produced by award-winning producer Bryan Lincoln. Check it out at

Jay’s books include the gamer-geek satire Rise of the Monkey Lord, Blue Collar Gods, Seven ‘til Sunrise, The Diary of Jill Woodbine, HG World: The Audio Scripts, and Hidden Harbor Mysteries: Anatomy of A Modern Audio Drama Series.

Jay holds a BA in Creative Writing and is working on his Master of Fine Arts from Seton Hill University’s innovative Writing Popular Fiction program. He attends and speaks at various science fiction and literary conventions about podcasting, writing, audio drama, and zombies.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

LIST: Ambasadora Book 1: Marked by Light on SF Signal List


John DeNardo, Managing Editor at SF Signal and columnist for Kirkus Reviews, researched this great list of 385 Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror eBooks Priced Less than $5 Each. Marked by Light, the first book in the Ambasadora space opera series was there, as well as three of my husband's books (The Devil and Preston Black, Hellbender, The Revelations of Preston Black by Jason Jack Miller). Other authors include fellow Seton Hill Writer Tim Waggoner as well as Brandon Sanderson, Paul S. Kemp, Michael Swanwick, Tim Powers, Peter Straub, Lilith Saintcrow, Gail Carriger, Philip Pullman, Marissa Meyer, Justin Gustainis, Chuck Wendig, and obviously hundreds more.

BOOK: Critical Hit-On (The Games of Love #1) by Deanna Dee



Roll for attraction.

Molly Moreau used to be a geek with the best of them—role playing games, multi-user dungeons, trading cards—the works. Then she found her long-time boyfriend in a dark corner with a girl dressed as Lara “boobs and guns” Croft. That was it for the relationship and for her geekiness. After moving back home, she got a job at a normal bar and grill with normal people to live a normal life. That is until Craig shows up with his RPG character sheet.

Craig Lawrence has been rolling 1s on the relationship front ever since his last girlfriend broke up with him because he apparently spent too much time playing guardian to his rebellious little sister. When he meets Molly, he wants more than anything to win her heart, and this time he’ll do anything to keep his family problems from interfering.

When fate (Molly’s best friend) brings Craig and Molly together (sets them up on a date), will this relationship roll yet another 1? Or will it score a critical hit?

Available for preorder at Amazon.

Deanna Dee is strictly human and does not, to her knowledge, own a hyena. She lives by the sea, which she takes full advantage of in the summer time. Nerd culture and pop culture make up the shameless downtime of her life. The rest of it is writing, and she’s okay with that.

Find her online at

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BOOK: The Angel of Mercy (Jax Marlin series) by T.K. Toppin

The Angel of Mercy

Even A Vigilante Needs An Angel
Weeks after helping Special Inspector Pedroni sort through his demons, Jax Marlin is still hiding, reluctant to conquer her own monster and face the world. As Christmas 2400 descends, Pedroni waits for Jax in growing despair, battling the crowds shopping for gifts and having cappuccinos with his elderly neighbour. Meanwhile Jax procrastinates, but learns of the kidnapping of a young girl. She soon realizes the girl is someone she knows, and if ever she needed a kick-start, this is it. As she chases the scent of the kidnappers, Jax finds herself entrenched in tropical sunshine and briny ocean breezes, and Pedroni eagerly abandons shopping to give chase once more. Can Jax save the kidnapped girl? Will Pedroni finally capture his vigilante? But not all is as it seems, and not all that need saving need it.

T.K. Toppin is a published author of Speculative Fiction and SFR (Science Fiction Romance) novels and short stories. The Lancaster Rule, her debut novel and its sequels, The Master Key and The Eternal Knot, were contracted by Champagne Books Group/BURST Books. In July 2012, she signed on with Ring of Fire Publishing to release the To Catch A Marlin novels and short stories.

T.K. was born, raised and lives in Barbados and is currently working on three novels and several short stories.

For more on T.K., visit her blogsite:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

BOOK: Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells



After the grisly murder of a dirty magic coven leader, Kate Prospero and the MEA team must pitch in to help the police find the killer. When the initial evidence points to a rival coven as the culprit, the threat of a coven war looms over the investigation. But the case becomes even more complex when a tenacious reporter insists on sticking her nose in both the investigation and Prospero’s own past.

But Prospero isn’t the only one whose old ghosts are coming back to haunt them. Newly minted mayor of Babylon, John Volos, as well as Prospero’s boss, Special Agent Miranda Gardner may have damning ties to the murderer. The team will have to use all the weapons in their arsenal to stop the coven war and find the killer before the case brings down all their careers.

Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas.

Contact Info:

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

WORKSHOP: Science Fiction in Thrillers by Heidi Ruby Miller at Pennwriters 2015

I'm happy to be presenting part of my Science Fiction in Thrillers class from Seton Hill's MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program for the 2015 Pennwriters Conference, Building Bridges.

Here is the description:
Where would you shelve a book about scientists cloning dinosaurs for a theme park or a man turning into a chimera or how about the unleashing of a zombie plague? I asked authors and editors for insights into how the industry categorizes thrillers with expansive science fictional elements. If you write these types of stories, where do you think you fit in?

The Pennwriters Conference is in Pittsburgh this year on the weekend of May 15 - 17 at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott. Keynote speaker is Ridley Pearson. For a full list of workshops, including other Seton Hill Writers like Jason Jack Miller, Timons Esaias, Lawrence C. Connolly, and Rebecca Drake, peruse the website.

Friday, January 30, 2015

BOOK: The Hedgerows of June by Ron Shannon


The Hedgerows of June

France, late June 1944.

The town of Saint-Lô is an important Nazi transportation hub in occupied France and the experienced German Army is determined to defend it. An inexperienced American Army is equally determined to conquer Saint-Lô. The result is the Battle of the Hedgerows, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

A British spy, Chris Weymouth, and an American expatriate, Mary McCorkel, meet at the home of Jean-Claire, an aging French Resistance operative. She tells Chris they have been given the responsibility to reunite four children with their fugitive parents in Saint-Lô. Chris is reluctant to take the dangerous mission, but Jean-Claire tells him he has no choice. The OSS has ordered Chris to get the children to Saint-Lô for purposes he is not permitted to discuss with Mary. Mary has her own secret reasons for making the journey.

To get to Saint-Lô they must cross the treacherous French farmland known as the bocage, or hedgerows, and what will soon be the battlefield. While staying one step ahead of the attacking Americans and dodging the defending Germans Chris and Mary discover their lives are threatened not only by the war, but also by the secrets and deceptions they are sworn to protect.

Ron Shannon discovered a passion for storytelling at a very young age: while listening to his teacher read the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol to the overly-excited members of his sixth grade class. Later, he went on to study at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and graduated with the unlikely degree combination of accounting and English. Recently he completed his Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Ron lives, daydreams, and writes at the New Jersey shore.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BOOK: Virgin Quest by Mark Radford


Virgin Quest is a romantic comedy unfolding within a mystery.

Tom Webber was ready for the race of a lifetime - the Virgin Quest, where moral values is the key to winning the heart of a decent woman. Finding love, hampered by lustful temptations and the chaotic obstacles that threaten to derail the whole Virgin Quest race. Can Tom win through in this satire on the romance game with a touch of mystery?

Mark Radford is a deaf British author born in 1964, who has been living on the south coast of England for over 30 years. After many dormant years, his writing dream was revived when in mid 1998 ill health caused him to lose his job on medical grounds. It was diagnosed as Menieres. During the recovery period, he enrolled in two creative writing courses that led to writing qualifications and two books were written in that time, one of which was 'Early Memory', his debut publication release. A full biography of the author can be found at his website He is presently working on his next book.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

VIDEO: Pulp Crazy - Two Hawks from Earth by Philip Jose Farmer with Mention of Dakota's Gate by Heidi Ruby Miller


Jason Aiken of Pulp Crazy wishes Philip Jose Farmer a Happy Birthday by taking a look at Two Hawks from Earth. He mentions the latest edition from Monkey Brain Books with a foreword by Christopher Paul Carey and my follow up story "Dakota's Gate" from The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer 3: Portraits of a Trickster from Meteor House Books (8 minutes in).

The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer 3: Portraits of a Trickster
Foreword by Frederik Pohl
Peoria-Colored Worlds
Missing the Wit and Creativity by Michael Bailey
Down in Phil Farmer's Basement by Steven Connelly
Over All, After All by Philip José Farmer
Of Friendships and Influences
The Holy Spirit of Science Fiction by Bruce Sterling
A Box of Influence by Chris Garcia
Wild Weird Clime by Philip José Farmer
To Be, or Not to Be by Tom Wode Bellman
Worlds in Disguise
Trout Masque Rectifier by Jonathan Swift Somers III
Kilgore, Kurt, and Me by David M. Harris
The Many Dooms of Harold Hall by Charlotte Corday-Marat
Desires Denied by Leo Queequeg Tincrowdor
Classic Worlds
Osiris on Crutches by Philip José Farmer & Leo Queequeg Tincrowdor
The Genuine Imposter by Rick Lai
The Long Wet Dream of Rip van Winkle by Philip José Farmer
Up, Out, and Over, Roger by Philip José Farmer
Expanded Worlds
The Wild Huntsman by Win Scott Eckert
Dakota's Gate by Heidi Ruby Miller
The Last of the Guaranys by Octavio Aragão & Carlos Orsi
Trickster of the Apes by S.M. Stirling

Friday, January 16, 2015

RESEARCH: Life after the MFA by Heidi Ruby Miller






The following is an outline from a class I teach for the graduating students during their last residency in Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program. I am a WPF alumna and now adjunct faculty and a mentor there.

1. More education
2. Teaching
3. Organizational memberships
4. Jobs in publishing industry
5. Something else entirely
6. Hybrid of options
7. Publication

A. Online offerings
Poets & Writers -
Online Colleges -
NewPages -
B. Local schools
C. Letters of recommendation/references - professors, mentors, peers, and alum

A. Online listings
HigherEdJobs -
Academic Careers -
The University Jobs -
B. Local listings
Craigslist - - Check out listings here carefully!
Word of Mouth
College/University sites
C. Letters of Recommendation/References - professors, mentors, peers, and alum

A. Professional organizations
The Authors Guild -
B. Local organizations
C. Seton Hill WPF Alum

A. Freelancing
BloggingPro -
CraigsList - - Check out listings here carefully!
Duotrope - -
Freelance Writing Jobs -
JournalismJobs -
LinkedIn Jobs -
MediaBistro -
ProBlogger -
Word of mouth
B. Editing
CraigsList - - Check out listings here carefully!
Individual publisher sites
Word of mouth
C. References - professors, mentors, peers, and alum



A. Agent -
Poets & Writers -
Query Tracker -
Author Advance -
Writer's Digest -
B. Publisher -
Duotrope -
Dark Markets -
Individual sites
C. Self-Publishing
Amazon KDP -
Lulu -
Lightning Source -
Create Space -
Nook Press -
Smashwords -
Xlibris -


Sunday, December 28, 2014

BOOKS: Goodreads 2014 List


In 2011 I read 34 books--you can see them all here.

In 2012 I read 40 books--you can see them all here.

In 2013 I read 20 books--you can see them all here.

In 2014 I managed to surpass my goal, just barely, and read 33 books. They are below.

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Heidi has
completed her goal of reading 30 books in 2014!

(NOTE: The Goodreads widget shows 34 books because for some irritating reason it counts Corpus Chrome twice. I didn't, as I just thought that was cheating.)

23 - print books (5 signed)
16 - books from Big 5 publishers
12 - books by authors I have read previously
10 - female authors
10 - science fiction books
9 - books from 8 different series
7 - books by Seton Hill Writers
7 - holiday books
6 - books by ITW Members
6 - fantasy books
5 - children's books
4 - books by Pennwriters
4 - non-fiction books
3 - books by SFR Brigaders
3 - anthologies
2 - audiobooks
2 - horror books
2 - romance books
1 - thriller
1 - book with which I am associated

Quincy J. Allen
Michael A. Arnzen
A. R. Aston
Aaron Becker
Meg Bellamy
Ludwig Bemelmans
Tony Bertauski
Grant Blackwood
Berkeley Breathed
Cary Caffrey
Katie Campbell
Scott Christian Carr
Andrew Conry-Murray
Greg Cox
Clive Cussler
James Fadeley
T. W. Fendley
Neil Gaiman
J. L. Gribble
O. Henry
Joe Hill
Kate Martin
Dana Marton
Jason Jack Miller (2)
Christopher Moore
Goldeen Ogawa
Sean Platt
Paul Reps
Mike Resnick
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lemony Snicket (2)
Bruce Talkington
T. K. Toppin
Johnny B. Truant
Peggy Van Pelt
Jeff VanderMeer
Albert Wendland
David Wright
K. Ceres Wright
S. Craig Zahler

How many books did you read this year, and what were your favorites?

Did we read any of the same ones?

What do you suggest I put on my TBR list for 2015? Include your own books if you're an author!

Friday, December 12, 2014

BOOK: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler


Jinn and Juice is the first in a new series by fantasy writer, Nicole Peeler, set in a world of immortal curses, powerful jinni and belly dancing.

Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Leila nears the end of her servitude — only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human? Born in ancient Persia, Leila turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry — by cursing Leila to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.

If she can remain unBound, Leila’s curse will soon be over. But Ozan Sawyer, a Magi with the ability to See, Call, and Bind jinn has other plans.

Oz needs Leila to help him penetrate Pittsburgh’s steel-soaked magic, a juice potent but poisonous to supernatural creatures, in order to find a missing girl with her own mysterious connection to Kouros. Unfortunately for Leila, becoming Bound to Oz may risk more than just her chance to be human once more — it could risk her very soul.

Nicole D. Peeler writes urban fantasy for Orbit Books and, in her spare time, is an associate professor at Seton Hill University, where she co-directs their MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Having recently finished the final book of her award-winning Jane True series, she is looking forward to the upcoming publication of Jinn and Juice, the first book in a series about a cursed jinni living in Pittsburgh. Nicole also lives in Pittsburgh, although she’s neither cursed nor a jinni.

She’s also a proud member of the League of Reluctant Adults and an alumna of both Boston University and The University of Edinburgh.

Please like her Facebook fan page for up to date information on Nicole’s writing. If you want to chat with her or see pictures of her sammiches, feel free to “friend” her on Facebook (Nicole Peeler) or follow her on Twitter (NicolePeeler). She’s also got a Pinterest for her new book, where you can get a sneak peek at her worldbuilding process. If you’d like to send Nicole a message, the best way to do so is through email, at IHeartSelkies(at)gmail(dot)com. The worst way is through Facebook Messages, as they tend to get eaten, and Nicole loves hearing from all of you.

For an autographed bookplate, send a SASE to Nicole Peeler, Box 421 F, Seton Hill University, Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA, 15601. Please specify any personalization you’d like.

Jinn and Juice is now available as an ebook from Orbit and will be released in paperback April 2015.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BOOK: Life in the No-Dating Zone by Patricia B. Tighe

Life in the No-Dating Zone

After surviving her parents' relationship drama when her older sister elopes, Claire Gardner vows not to date during high school. Now, three years later, Claire is thrown into new relationship drama—her two best friends have boyfriends. Which means Claire is spending more and more time alone. And she's more than a little peeved.

Enter Gray Langley. His year-long crush on Claire's friend Lindsey has made him desperate enough to ask Claire for help with pursuing Lindsey. Hesitant at first, Claire finally agrees—anything to get rid of Lindsey's current evil boyfriend. But as Claire and Gray plot together, Claire has to fight the sparks of attraction flying everywhere.

Because she can't be with Gray unless she gives up her vow. And how can she handle the pain that'll come from confronting her parents with the reasons for that vow? Claire has to decide . . . unless, of course, Gray decides first.

Patricia B. Tighe is not the writer who's been writing for as long as she can remember. In fact, she didn't start writing fiction until she was almost thirty. But, she's always been a reader. Which, of course, is one of the basic requirements for being a writer. She's read everything from horse novels and spy thrillers to historical romance and fantasy sagas—and lots in between. There's something wondrous about picking up a book and entering a new world with new adventures. And she doesn't plan on stopping any time soon.

When she's not reading, she hangs out with her husband and two old dogs, plus her grown sons whenever she gets the chance. In the fall she spends way too much time yelling at her TV while watching football. She's also addicted to British TV shows. Top Gear, anyone?

Oh, yeah. And she writes. Kissing books. Or at least books that include kissing.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

BOOK: Lionel's Christmas Adventure by Paul R. Hewlett


Lionel's Christmas Adventure

Have you ever wanted something you couldn’t have? Lionel desperately wants a new sled and he will do almost anything to get it. This fun Christmas story follows Lionel from Larrystown to the North Pole. Filled with great Christmas imagery, this book is perfect for young readers and school or family story time. This holiday season, be careful what you wish for, you never know what might happen!

Paul R. Hewlett writes books for children. His first book is Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule. It is an early chapter book for ages 7-10. It is the first book in the Lionel's Grand Adventure series. Paul is a US Air Force vet who is married and has a "senior" dog named Joe that he and his wife adopted from the local rescue facility. His aim is to increase and foster children's interest in reading by combining entertainment and values.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

BOOK BUNDLE: Preston Black Mix Tape by Jason Jack Miller


The PRESTON BLACK MIX TAPE bundle is a literary box set! (Almost 220,000 words of Preston Black goodness.) You get both Preston Black novels—THE DEVIL & PRESTON BLACK and THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK, plus two short stories that were only available in other anthologies. ALMOST A NEW YEAR is a vignette that shows how family and friends deal with the loss of a deployed soldier, in this case Stu Croe. RHYTHM OF WAR is Ben Collins’ first person account of his role in the Battle of Fallujah.

In addition to the stories above, you get the following essays, articles, and non-fiction bits Jason published in various places over the course of writing the first two Preston Black novels:

THE DEVIL & PRESTON BLACK Reading & Resource Guide
Because You CAN’T, You WON’T, You DON’T Stop: ADAM YAUCH
Murder Ballads and Old Magic

Jason Jack Miller knows it’s silly to hold onto the Bohemian ideals of literature, music, and love above all else. But he doesn’t care.

His own adventures paddling wild mountain rivers and playing Nirvana covers for less-than-enthusiastic crowds inspired his Murder Ballads and Whiskey series. The first three books are currently available: The Devil and Preston Black, Hellbender, and The Revelations of Preston Black. The next installment, All Saints, is due out soon.

Hellbender was Jason's thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program, where he is now adjunct faculty. The novel won the Arthur J. Rooney Award for Fiction and is a finalist for the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award.

His career got its start when he co-authored an outdoor travel guide with his wife in 2006. Since then his work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, online, as part of a travel guide app for mobile phones, and in the award-winning writing guide Many Genres, One Craft.

When Jason isn't writing he's on his mountain bike or looking for his next favorite guitar.

He is a member of The Authors Guild, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. He lives just outside of Pittsburgh with his wife, Heidi, and a cat. Visit him at Tweet him @jasonjackmiller. Email him at jasonjackmiller at