Thursday, March 27, 2008


FairyBrewHaHa_Ken RandFairy BrewHaHa by Ken Rand

Fairy BrewHaHa originally appeared in 2005 from Five Star. It tanked, and I asked Yard Dog to reprint it. They said okay.

Fairy BrewHaHa at the Lucky Nickel Saloon ain’t a novel, really—it’s a whopper. See, in the Old West, as Mark Twain told, a good storyteller got favored treatment around a campfire, on the trail, or in a saloon. Read this book (and my other Lucky Nickel novel Dadgum Martians Invade the Lucky Nickel Saloon! and my short story collection Tales of the Lucky Nickel Saloon, all from Yard Dog Press) with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It’s supposed to be funny, so if you’re in a place where folks will look cross-eyed at you if you grin too much, go somewheres else so you can guffaw if you’ve a mind to.

Fairy BrewHaHa at the Lucky Nickel Saloon is about these fairies who invade the saloon intend on getting drunk afore they rob the circus, in town for a show, of payroll gold. They dote on a legendary concoction called Fairy BrewHaHa, but when they find the barkeep don’t know how to brew it up, they go hog wild and tear up the joint. The regulars are in trouble for certain sure as they try to save their favorite waterhole.

-Ken Rand
March 2008

Also upcoming in 2008 from Ken Rand:

-- Where Angels Fear, Fairwood Press, March

-- Pax Dakota, Five Star, May

-- Port Chicago Isn’t There Anymore—But We Still Call It Home, Media Man! Productions, July

-- The Gods Perspire, Fairwood Press, fall

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Meme to Take You Away - The Illustrated Version

I seldom do memes any more, probably because I limit myself to how much time I spend on the internet per day, but Sandy Lender (read her PICK SIX here) emailed me to say she'd tagged me for this one, so I took the time to have a little fun.

To participate in a meme, you merely answer the questions on your own blog, (and go ahead and post a comment here stating that you've done so!) and tag five to 10 blog owners that you'd like to have play along with us. The idea is to get lots of folks connected and "playing along" to increase our awareness of each other (and to have fun). When you post your answers on your blog, be sure to list the blogs that have participated so far so we increase our presence in the blogosphere.

1) If you could live for a month in one world or time period from a novel you've read, which would you choose?
In the Florida Keys with Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford
Black Widow_Randy Wayne WhiteBlack Widow by Randy Wayne White

2) If you could be one character from a comic book or fiction series, who would it be?
Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt
Treasure of KhanTreasure of Khan by Clive Cussler

3) Where (in the real world) is your dream vacation spot?
Costa Rica.
playa mantaPunta Leona, Costa Rica (2004)

4) Name a celebrity or TV personality with whom you would like to have lunch.
Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, because he has my dream job.
Phil KeoghanPhil Keoghan

Blogs Tagged by Sandy Lender at
Sandy Lender_Heidi\'s Pick SixSandy Lender

Blogs Tagged by Heidi Ruby Miller:
Jason Jack Miller at jaguarpaddler
Crystal Miller at _dolphy_
Mary SanGiovanni at The Way Dead Girls Whisper
Christopher Paul Carey at cpcarey
K. Ceres Wright at dohlman

If you're not on the meme list of participants above but you want to get in on the game, that's cool. You can certainly do so. Just copy the list of questions and list of participating blogs into a post on your blog, type in your answers, and type in the list of folks you're inviting to participate. Let me know that you've joined in the game in the comment field here so I can check out your blog and add you to the scene.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Cynthia Owens

Cynthia Owens


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have two favorite characters. They’re actually secondary characters who appear in In Sunshine or in Shadow. Tom Flynn is the heroine, Siobhán Desmond’s, best friend. He knew her husband, and he’s the “big brother” character that every girl wants. He’s a good, uncomplicated man who just wants to raise his family in peace. But he’s also a man you can count on. He’s fiercely loyal and strong of spirit.

My other favorite character is
Grannie Meg, Siobhán’s grandmother. A wise, tender woman, she’s seen famine and death, but remains a rock of support to Siobhán when she’s needed it most.

2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coke – the beverage, that is. Some people need the caffeine in coffee to wake them up. With my crazy writing schedule (I regularly start my day at 5:30 a.m.), I need the caffeine in a can of Coke to pry my eyes open! But only Coke Classic. Diet Coke and its other variations just don’t do it for me.

4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Probably the scene in which Rory, the hero, returns to the tiny thatched cottage at the edge of Ballycashel land where he lived for the first ten years with his mother and his abusive father. It was a wrenching scene in which Rory went back to his childhood and remembered all the beatings he suffered at Seamus Doherty’s hands, and it brought him close to emotional collapse. I think, in order to write a good hero, you have to show his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths, and I hope this scene did that.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
A lot of my inspiration comes from Irish music. There are so many stories contained in the old, traditional Irish songs that when I listen to an Irish CD, my imagination just takes flight.

Case in point: There’s a lovely old song called The Fields of Athenry, about Michael, who is being transported to Australia during the Famine. His “crime” was robbing a wagon of food to feed his wife and starving family. That, with a few variations, became the backstory for Siobhán Desmond in In Sunshine or in Shadow.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I like many different kinds of music. I love Broadway show tunes, and depending on my mood, a county or rock song might appeal to me. But for music that really speaks to me, inspires me, it has to be Celtic music, in particular the songs of Ireland. Whether it’s a merry Irish jig, a melancholy song of love or land lost, or a spirited “rebel song,” Irish music speaks to me in a way that no other music does.

A few years ago, my Irish mother-in-law gave me a CD of Irish music performed by Will Millar, of the group the Irish Rovers. This past autumn, I was able to obtain permission to use a clip of one of his instrumental works in the music video for In Sunshine or in Shadow. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I think the tune captured the story beautifully.
If you’d like to view the video, here’s the YouTube link:

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
When I begin a new story, I usually have a general outline – beginning, middle and end. During the research period, I flesh out my characters – hero, heroine and secondary characters – and come up with their backstory. Then I work from there.

I’ve found that, in discovering a character’s backstory, I’m able to come up with the situations that will affect them most profoundly. For instance, Rory’s father was illiterate, and resented his son knowing more than he did. It was obvious to me that I had to give Rory a reverence for the written word and a drive to learn that would take him to the most shattering experience of his life. This experience led him to his ultimate destination: Ballycashel and Siobhán.

I am not a plotter. I find planning a story scene-by-scene to be very constraining. Oftentimes, if I’ve hit a snag in a story, I’ll work on another scene. Sometimes I’m so connected to my characters that I even dream about them and what’s happening with them.

13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Cynthia Owens was destined to be interested in history. One of her distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17th Century “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France as brides for the settlers there.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, Cynthia enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to her first love, romantic fiction. Her stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. Her first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, is set in post-Famine Ireland and was released by Highland Press in December, 2006

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and the Canadian Romance Authors Network. Cynthia is a lifelong resident of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where she still lives with her own Celtic hero and her two school-aged children.

You can visit her blog at or find her at Romance Book Junction.

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Monday, March 17, 2008


Fires Rising_Michael LaimoFires Rising by Michael Laimo

When I started, I wrote a ton of short fiction, and sent them off to small press journals. I published a few, but had a million rejections. But, I really enjoyed doing it, so I kept at it, and soon enough, had published a bunch of short stories, all horror (I was always a horror fan, so there was no other avenue for me here). I spent a year writing my first book Atmosphere, and went to a few horror conventions to see if I could get some tips from the some more experienced writers. I’d met quite a few great people, and knew that I’d found my niche. I attended a Stokers award banquet in NY, met with the Leisure Books editor, and pitched my book to him. After 2 years, he accepted it, and two years after that, it was published.

My current novel Fires Rising is also through Leisure. In Fires Rising, a church waits in darkness. It looks abandoned, forgotten. It has no congregation, but it is not empty. Under its floor, in a pit dug long ago, lies a wooden crate that was never meant to be unearthed. But the church is finally being renovated and workmen have found the pit. How could they realize what they have done? How could they know the forces they’ve unleashed?

Father Pilazzo is overseeing the renovation of the old church. His dream is to see it restored to its former glory. But his dream is becoming a nightmare. He’s begun to see horrific visions, unholy images of death and warnings of terrors to come. And within the church forgotten men fight to survive against impossible demons, while sides are drawn for the ultimate battle…

You can find reviews of Fires Rising at:
horror web
Horro World (scroll down to the third review)
Horrow Review

And you can find me at my website: and MySpace:

-Michael Laimo
March 2008

Also coming this month from Michael Laimo, Dark Ride, a new short story collection from Borderlands Press.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008


Thin Ice_Liana LaverentzThin Ice by Liana Laverentz

I finished Thin Ice for the first time seventeen years ago. It made the rounds of the traditional publishing houses, with no luck. After a few years, and after my first novel was published in 1993, I re-wrote Thin Ice from beginning to end, and tried again. This time I got glowing rejection letters, but they were rejection letters all the same. Finally my agent said, what you need to do is win some awards, get some name recognition. Then they’ll buy it.

So I put Thin Ice away, and moved on to writing several other manuscripts, one of which became Ashton’s Secret, released by Meteor/Kismet. But Thin Ice remained my favorite, and I wanted people to read it, so I started passing it around to friends in manuscript form in a three-ring binder.

One friend who read it loved it so much, insisted I needed to send it out again. And I mean insisted. But it had been nearly ten years since I’d last sent it out, and it needed to be completely revised again. The world had changed. For one thing, nobody had cell phones when I first wrote Thin Ice. I had to add them in. For another, Emily, my heroine, needed a very large car for a special reason, and they’d stopped making the car I had chosen for her. This was before the advent of SUVs.

So I had to go car shopping for her, which was great fun, actually, and sparked many a friendly argument with another friend, a car buff. Also, the hockey team Eric plays for was in Minnesota. When I originally wrote Thin Ice, the North Stars were the only NHL team in Minnesota. So I created the St. Paul Saints, to be their arch-rivals. But by the time I was sending out the manuscript a second time, the North Stars had moved to Dallas. Then, this last time I re-wrote it, the Minnesota Wild was in St. Paul, where my original team, the St. Paul Saints, had originated.

So I had to go back to the original concept of two teams in Minnesota who were arch-rivals, but this time my team was the Minneapolis Saints, instead of the St. Paul Saints. And in between, the national hockey league had added and moved teams and re-structured their divisions and added new Stanley Cup champions, and so all of that had to be re-written to reflect the most recent situation in the NHL.

It took about a year, but I eventually got it done. Right around that time, Rhonda Penders and RJ Morris were opening the doors of their new publishing venture, The Wild Rose Press, and it was one of those serendipitous moments in life. I knew Thin Ice had had no luck with traditional publishers, so I thought I would give The Wild Rose Press a try. They publish in both e-book and print formats, and if they bought it, my friends and family could finally stop reading the darn thing one by one from a three-ring binder.

I sent the manuscript in to Rhonda, explained that the manuscript hadn’t fit in very well with traditional publishers, and Rhonda said, “Great! That’s what we are all about.” Within days she offered me a contract, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out, both for Thin Ice, and The Wild Rose Press. Rhonda and RJ have been phenomenal to work with, and The Wild Rose Press has taken off like gangbusters. I am so pleased to be a part of such a vibrant and growing publishing house, and to know that Thin Ice has finally found the best home possible for it In The Garden.

Since then, Thin Ice has won two major awards, a 2007 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award for excellence in writing, and a 2008 EPPIE for Best Contemporary Romance. I have also published another novel with The Wild Rose Press, a contemporary romance with an element of suspense, Jake’s Return. In late 2008, The Wild Rose Press will re-release my first novel, Ashton’s Secret.

EPPIE_Laverentz2008 EPPIE for Liana Laverentz's Thin Ice

To find out more about me and my books than you ever wanted to know, go to my website: or MySpace:

-Liana Laverentz
March 2008

You can find reviews for Thin Ice at these places:
Clover Autrey
Romance at Heart Magazine
Long and Short Reviews
Five Angels
Four Cups Coffee

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


Goblin War_Jim HinesGoblin War by Jim C. Hines

My path was a rocky one, to say the least. Things started out well. One of my early stories, "Blade of the Bunny," won first place in the Writers of the Future contest. They flew me out to L.A., put on a workshop with authors like Dave Wolverton and Tim Powers, and generally spoiled me rotten. I figured I was on my way, and rejection would be a thing of the past.

You may laugh now, if you want.

Years later, after collecting several hundred rejections, I wrote a book called Goblin Quest. I sent it out to the major publishers and some agents. No bites. So I started the next book. Then, about 18 months later, I was talking to an editor I had worked with who was now acquiring for a small library press called Five Star. I asked him if he'd be interested, sent the book, and voila -- he wanted it. I withdrew the book from the one or two publishers who were still sitting on it after 18 months, and life was good.

That was the plan, at least. The reality was that one publisher apparently didn't get my letter. After the Five Star edition came out -- 2.5 years after I had submitted the manuscript -- that big publisher made an offer on Goblin Quest.

I did what any rational author would have done. I panicked. The book was already out, but Five Star only does hardcovers, which meant the mass market paperback rights were still available and maybe this could still work! My friends kicked some sense into me and told me to talk to an agent, which I did. I ended up signing with Steve Mancino of JABberwocky, and asking him to help me fix this mess.

Steve did his best, but the deal fell apart. I grew very depressed and moped around the house feeling sorry for myself for about a month. Steve then kicked my butt and told me to write a second goblin book. He turned around and sold both books to DAW, for a better advance than the original publisher had offered.

It's not how I'd recommend breaking in, but it worked. On March 4, my third goblin book came out. Goblin War is a humorous fantasy about a nearsighted goblin named Jig and his pet fire-spider Smudge who find themselves dragged into a war between humans and monsters. We've sold three more books to DAW in a new series. Look for The Stepsister Scheme in January 2009.

You can find reviews for my goblin trilogy here and you can find me at my website or my blog

-Jim C. Hines
March 2008

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Friday, March 07, 2008

RESEARCH: E-mail vs. Post Submissions


Yesterday I caught up on submitting and querying my completed projects. I am way behind for 2008 - only 21 subs thusfar. I aim for the 'Buckell 150' each year.

While recording my new subs, I went back through to label the one-year non-responders. It was nice to see there were none for March; February only had two; but January had six. I noticed something else during the search back through all of these records: My ratio of email to post subs is 2 to 1. This would be closer to 3 to 1 if I took out all of the agent queries, partials, and fulls from last year.

I suppose it's because I subconsciously place markets into two categories: free, easy, and fast as opposed to paying for postage and traveling to the post office. For good or for bad, I put post-only markets at the bottom of my submissions list, sometimes never even getting to them before the project sells.

Anyone else follow this same electronic submission trend?

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Danger on X-Y One_Vicky BurkholderDanger on X-Y One by Vicky Burkholder

A publishing story? You want a publishing story? Hmmmmm…. Where to begin.

I’ve always been someone who made up stories, and even wrote some of them down. I started sending them out a long, long time ago, but didn’t get really serious about my writing until my kids were well into high school. I did win a few contests here and there, but, again, nothing serious. But I continued to write. Mostly papers for my Master’s degree and then as a technical writer for a small computer company. From there, I moved up to policy and procedures manuals for organizations and government-type places. And yes, it is as boring as it sounds.

Then I got a job as a journalist for the local newspaper. I specialized in human interest stories – you know the type – “New Vice-Principal at the High School”; “Students Put On Spring Play” – more interesting than policy and procedures manuals, but not where I wanted to be. In the mean time, I continued to write my fiction stories and started expanding them into books.

My next gig was as an editor for a now-defunct e-publisher. (Actually, I’ve been with four – three of which no longer exist). After I edited over three-dozen novels for them, I submitted my own. The Path to Orenda Clu was picked up and I began my journey as a novelist.

It was a short-lived trip as the company closed less than a week after my book came out. I spent the next four years shopping it, and other novels I’d written – around to other places. And I continued to study and learn the craft. Finally, Cerridwen Press picked up Akashan’te, a book based on Orenda Clu. And a week later, they accepted my futuristic novel Prime Time.

And the rest, as the clichéd saying goes, is history. I now have three books with Cerridwen Press, all e-books. Two, Prime Time and Danger on Xy-One, are futuristic romances while Akashan’te is a fantasy novel. I also have a book out with Draumr PublishingThe Shape of Love. This is a contemporary shape-shifter anthology of which I am one of three of authors. It was incredibly fun to write and we plan to do an anthology each year with them. They come out as both e-book and trade paperback at the same time.

In the meantime, I continue to write, mostly fantasy or futuristics, and am excited to be able to hold a book in my hand that has my name on it.

My advice? Do not ever give up. Ever. Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep writing. If you quit, it’s a sure thing you’ll never be published. But if you keep trying, who knows? One day, you might have that thrill of holding a book of your own too.

You can find me online at my blog: and my website:

-Vicky Burkholder
March, 2008

DANGER ON XY-ONE: Aleksia Matthews is an asteroid assayer who would like nothing better than to be left alone. Her life is soon turned upside down when a band of ruthless pirates attack her ship. She manages to escape, but fears the worst for her brother. Ali swears revenge. Although well-trained by Fleet Security, she knows she can’t do the job alone. When she literally runs into a stranger, Jason Cole she knows she has met the perfect partner—in more ways than one. Special agent and Bounty Hunter, Jason has spent the past year tracking the pirates who killed his brother Zack and Zack’s family. He’s always one step behind, too late to help the victims. There are never any survivors—until now. It is up to him to keep Ali alive and out of trouble until the gang can be captured, and maybe longer.

THE SHAPE OF LOVE: WHO’S YOUR ALPHA? While growing up, Sunny Clark never felt like she fit in with the others in her school. She was always a little overweight, always a little too independent, and a shape shifter. She was also in love with her neighbor, David Maxwell. But he was one of the in crowd, and she wasn't. When she returns for a reunion, many things have changed, but not her feelings for David. Unfortunately, the alpha female doesn't want Sunny around and sets out to make sure she knows it. But Sunny is no longer the shy little puppy she once was and the pecking order is about to change.
The Shape of Love_Vicky BurkholderVicky Burkholder's "Who's Your Alpha?" in The Shape of Love

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Sheryl Nantus

Sheryl Nantus_Heidi's Pick SIxSheryl Nantus


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
Well, aside from traveling to Canada once or twice a year to see my family - I've been to San Francisco, Washington D.C., Vancouver, and Las Vegas (a few times - it's a surreal place to visit!).

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Tea, tea, TEA! I actually have Tetley tea smuggled down from Canada, since it's a different blend here. I love peppermint tea along with green tea and various herbals.

4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
Oh... I have a plethora of books going at any one time. Seems to be about one or two to a room. Steven Pressfield, Patricia Briggs, various writing magazines and books. And that's just the bathroom!

6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Not as much as I should be. Which is, to say, nil. We just purchased a Wii over the holidays and am looking forward to getting the Wii Fit game which should help take a few pounds off the writing behind I've developed. I do love to WATCH, however. Winter Olympics are my fav - curling, hockey...

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?
Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov - the masters of short stories.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Absolutely! My husband and I adore Japanese Anime such as Ghost In The Shell and we have a great time on Saturday morning watching The Legion of Super-Heroes. We also enjoy Kim Possible, The Grimm Adventures of Billy and Mandy and *heart* Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 in Media Arts Writing.

During her fifteen years of working in private security she was stationed at the United States Consulate in Toronto; various Consuls' residences as well as many hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area. She received training in many fields, along with being certified to carry a firearm while working as an armed security officer.

She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint and chai tea she continues to write short stories and novels while searching for the perfect cuppa.

Her novel The Second Line is currently out through Mundania Press LLC. Her short story collection Looking In, Looking Out is also available.

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