Monthly Archives: December 2011

Musa Author Interview: Lisa Greer

Today I am pleased to introduce Lisa Greer, one of Musa’s many authors. She writes Gothic Romance and her most recent work is a Christmas novella entitled Pointe of Danger.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Pointe of Danger?

This book came out of my love for dance and gothic romance. We took a trip to Ocean City Maryland for vacation last summer, and the opening scene came to me. Here’s a bit about the work. It is available at Musa Publishing (www.musapublishing.com):

When Neve Warren finds an old pair of pointe shoes, a dangerous obsession from the past threatens to replay itself in her present.

Neve Warren, an injured ballerina, is spending the Christmas season in Ocean City, Maryland. Panic attacks and fears about her violent ex-boyfriend, Joshua Payne, challenge her attempt at recovery. After being followed one night on the local boardwalk, she realizes the past is never far behind.

Cam London, a police officer with his own troubled history, collides with Neve, literally, that night. When Neve finds out the history of the house she is renting and that the threats of the past coincide eerily with those of the present, can Cam keep her safe? And will Neve put the ghosts of the house to rest?

2. When did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

The thought was in my head from a young age. I read voraciously and kept a diary and then moved on to other writing as I grew older.

3. How do you plan your novels?

I start with a general idea of the beginning, middle, end and characters and start writing. If I get stuck, I do an outline of next scenes.

4. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Wrapping up a novel or novella and making sure the end is right.

5. When you get stuck, what are a couple of the things you do to get un-stuck?

Outline or read for inspiration

6. You write Gothic fiction, particularly romance. How does the genre restrict you, and what advice would you give to someone trying to write their first Gothic romance?

That’s a great question! I don’t feel like I have many restrictions. As long as there are elements of the macabre, mysterious, or grotesque, I’m on my way. As far as gothic romance goes, my fellow fans of the genre and I came up with an Epic List of Gothic Elements a year or so ago. It’s on my Gothicked Blog. (http://gothicked.blogspot.com) I think it’s safe to say there is plenty of room for fun in the genre. I have worked on innovating within the genre by doing shorter works, bonnet romance that is also gothic romance, and more.

I would tell anyone trying to write their first gothic romance to be sure you have read in the genre and beyond– everything from DuMaurier to Seton to Holt and more. The more you read, the better you’ll write. Figure out what you admire in other writers’ works and develop those qualities in your own writing.

7. What one piece of advice do you think is most crucial for aspiring authors to remember?

Start and keep a daily writing habit. You’ll amaze yourself with your productivity. I personally strive for three hours a day of writing. It works, especially for a creature of habit like me. The research Malcolm Gladwell presents in his book, Outliers, also shows the importance of just doing the thing as much as you can. He found that experts put in about 10000 hours into their field or passion to become experts in it. Then, they keep progressing and putting in the time to improve. He makes the point that the Beatles played together for thousands of hours as a young band. It was no accident that they were amazing together; they had spent a lot of time practicing and learning!

8. What kinds of writing communities do you find most helpful? Can you recommend a few?

I find my Gothicked Blog helpful. It has helped me find and create a community of readers, writers, cover artists, and more. I recommend that every writer start a blog. The other helpful writing community is the face to face writing group I and a friend have just begun. It is exciting to share information about the changing industry and generally conspire about plot ideas and more. I advise that you find folks who are at a similar level to you in writing so you can help each other.

9. What are you reading right now?

I am engrossed in Tom Piccirilli’s collection of short stories, Futile Efforts. It’s horror and storytelling at its best.

10. What are you working on right now?

I am working on my next novel set in the Hudson Valley called Come to the Tower, Love. I’m also working on a few shorter pieces. I generally have multiple projects ongoing.

Bio: I have long been a gothic romance fan. I received my M.A. in 18th century British Literature from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and have been teaching, tutoring, and writing ever since. I am the owner of Gothicked Blog, a blog that reviews Gothic novels, especially gothic romance novels. My biggest gothic romance role model is Barbara Michaels (Mertz), and I count among my prized possessions a post card she sent in response to a fan letter a couple years back. I have published two novels– Magnolian and Moonlight on the Palms– and multiple novelettes and novellas. When I’m not writing, I’m spending time with my family, watching gothic romance/horror movies, and working in my community.

My Amish gothic romance, Cries from the Past, has been a bestselling e-book on Amazon off and on in the gothic romance category for the last few months.

A new Christmas novelette, Pointe of Danger, is out now. Two other works are forthcoming in 2012 from Musa Publishing.

Visit my website or “like” me on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you!

Cindi Myers is just one of Musa’s many authors. To check out more of Musa’s authors, go to http://www.musapublishing.com . If you would like to buy Pointe of Danger, you can do so here.

Finished My Novel

I managed to finish my novel last week, at around 120, 000 words. Once Nanowrimo was over and I stopped padding the word count, everything went along pretty quickly. To be honest, I kind of hurried through the last two battles because I wanted to be done with that monster draft. But I finished it, which means I get to spend my Christmas break creating a plan of attack for the next edit of Moonshadow’s Guardian.

For those of you still finishing your novels, keep going. Take advantage of whatever time you have off to squeeze in an extra half hour of writing in. No matter how much or how little time you have off, you can still take advantage of a slice of it to finish your novel.

And for those of you who, like me, have finished novels, I have a challenge for you. I’m planning to completely restart a very twisted paranormal romance-ish short story I wrote during the summer, aiming this time to make it a bit longer to include the main characters’ trek through the country they’re in. It’s the first short story I’ve written in a very long time that takes place in this world, and it happens to take place a very long time ago in Scotland, so this will be research intensive. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to do a lot of historical research.

I am, however, asking you to challenge yourself to write either one fairly long short story–I’m thinking somewhere between 10-15K for mine–or a couple of shorter short stories between now and January ninth. That may seem like a completely arbitrary date for you, but that’s when my break ends and it also gives everyone two weeks to create something they enjoy. I’m not asking you to edit this right now, and in fact, in the new year I’ll be writing a couple posts about editing short stories before I break into novels.

So over the next two weeks, set aside some time for yourself to write. Don’t let anyone interrupt you. Right now we’re going to write some stories together, and in the New Year, we’re going to turn them into publishable stories.

What are you working on this holiday season?

It’s Prompt Time

As promised, today I have a prompt for you that will hopefully inspire you to write some awesome short fiction. I won’t be doing this one today because I’m really focused on finishing my novel right now, but it’s on my list to write next year.

So, here goes:

The day I died

Take that however you want, make it into whatever you want, and please share with me what angle you’ve taken on this prompt.

Musa Author Interview: Cornell Deville

Today I’m pleased to introduce Euterpe–that’s Musa’s YA imprint–author Cornell Deville.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Lost in the Bayou?

The setting is Louisiana in the summer of 1963. When Robin Sherwood’s parents’ private plane disappears in the Voodoo Swamp, her uncle moves in as trustee of the multi-million dollar Sherwood Estate. It doesn’t take long for Robin to figure out there’s something not quite right about Uncle Conrad — besides having a metal claw where his left hand used to be. But his obsession with The Lone Ranger and the fact that he knows every episode by number? That’s just weird.
 
Weird changes to crazy when he explains the bizarre game he has planned — a game that will leave Robin dead and Uncle Conrad the sole heir to the Sherwood fortune. In order to escape his devious plan and its deadly consequences, the bayou may be Robin’s only chance. It’s a risky choice, but becoming alligator bait seems a lot less terrifying than what’s waiting for her in the cellar.

2. Why did you decide to write YA fiction instead of adult fiction?

That’s a great question. But I don’t have a great answer except to say that, perhaps, it provides a return to my younger days when I took off on great adventures with Jules Verne or Robert Louis Stevenson.

3. Who are some of the authors that you admire?

In addition to the two I just mentioned, I have a great respect for Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Harper Lee, Rex Stout, Anthony Horowitz, Suzanne Collins. There are so many great writers to read. And that list keeps growing. New authors are being published every day, and Musa is doing a lot to keep that ball rolling. There’s some great, new stuff out there. And more coming right behind it.

4. How do you plan a novel?

I begin with a premise or a what-if situation. Then I try to work all the possibilities out in my head before I type the first character. I don’t have all the details when I begin, but I have a good idea of the situation and how everything is going to be resolved at the end. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. My characters sometimes get themselves into situations I wasn’t expecting.

5. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you, and how do you get through it?

The hardest part is starting. Coming up with the initial idea. Someone once said that there is nothing new under the sun. That may be true. But there are certainly new ways to look at the old stuff. It’s all about seeing something that wasn’t there the first time you looked.

6. Can you tell us a bit about how you wrote your query letter?

Ah, the dreaded query. Maybe I should scratch that last answer and replace it with the query letter as being the hardest part of the writing process. Anyone who’s ever written a query will concur that it’s very difficult to condense a story of 50,000 words into a couple of paragraphs. It’s sort of like trying to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag. Or you could compare it to childbirth: painful while it’s going on, and such a relief when it’s over.

I typically start out with a single sentence in the main character’s point of view. I try to keep the Hero’s Journey stages in mind: Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr. I build the query based on those stages, sprinkling in just enough backstory and a villain so that it makes sense and leaves the hero/heroin in a rather sticky situation at the end, hopefully enticing the reader to want more.

7. Do you write anything other than novels?

I’ve written several picture books, and a lot of academic writing. I also do some ghostwriting.

8. What do you think is the most important thing for aspiring authors to remember?

Read. Read as much as possible of the genre in which you want to write. That’s critical. And spending a lot of time writing would be right below that.

9. What are you reading right now?

I’m finishing Thinner, by Stephen King, and waiting ever so anxiously for his 11/22/63 to come out. November 8th is the release date on that one so the time draws near. I can’t wait.

10. What are you going to write next?

My next project is to finish up a sequel to a steampunk novel that Musa is publishing. They’re releasing Cannibal Island in March. As I said, it’s a steampunk adventure, very boy-centric, and I’m hoping it will be a hit. If it is, I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in this sequel because that novel was created as the first in a long series of adventures based on the same premise with the same characters. I don’t want to give anything away here, so I won’t say any more. It’s probably one of my favorite books so far.

I also have another sequel in mind. The premise for this one just popped into my head last night, so it’s only in the embryonic stage right now. There are plenty of things to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I’m looking forward to all of it.

BIO

My writing career began in elementary school—Mrs. Carmichael’s third grade classroom. Unfortunately, I had to give it up for a while and spend some time working as a freelance graphic designer. That freelance gig blossomed into a small corporation with 20 employees providing design and printing services nationally to Fortune 500 companies including Disney, Sprint, Prudential, Hallmark, Russell Stover, McDonald’s, and all four branches of the military.

After 18 years, I got out of that business and became a Certified Project Management Professional. I returned to writing when I was contacted by the Project Management Institute and asked to help revise the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). That ended successfully, and although I had expertise in that field and continued to work as a project manager, my heart was actually in the middle grade and young adult fiction genre.

During a California vacation, a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway led me to Morro Bay. The view of the fog-shrouded Morro Rock planted a seed in my mind which resulted in the first book of the Treasure of Morro Bay series. The sequel followed soon after that, and I just kept writing.

Re-Evaluating your Writing Goals

It’s that time of year again. Everyone’s after your money, the houses are all lit up with half a dozen colours, and people are singing in the streets. The new year is right around the corner and it’s time to start re-evaluating our lives and deciding what changes we want to make next year.

For us writers, it’s important to look carefully at what we want to achieve in the next year. For those of you who are hobby writers and plan to keep it that way, you need to pick a goal that’s reasonable and that fulfils your creative needs. For those of us who are aiming to become professional authors, we need to look even more carefully at our goals to make sure that they’re really moving us in that direction.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that we should really make four sets of goals: one set of long term goals, one set of goals for the next five years, one set of goals for the next three years, and finally a set of goals for the next year. Today I’d like to walk you through the process of creating these sets of goals.

First, look at the goals you’ve made for this year. Cross off whatever you’ve achieved, make notes of the ones that you’re still working on, and make note of which ones you won’t be able to accomplish before January first. Then look at any sets of longer term goals that you’ve had and take note of whether or not you’ve made progress towards these goals in the last year.

Your first set of goals should really be a statement about what you want to achieve long term. Think of this as something like a ten or twenty year list. Mine would be to have published several short stories and three or four novels in ten years, and to be making enough money to live solely off of my writing. Include all the major things that you want to accomplish in the next ten to twenty years.

From there, we’re going to work backwards. Now create a goal list for the next five years. This goal list should include how many novels you want to write during that time period, how many you want to edit, whether you want to try a different kind of fiction each year, and an idea of how many short stories you’d like to write–say, between 20-30. My list currently includes goals relating to novels, short fiction, and non-fiction. Make sure that all of your goals will lead you in the direction of your long term goals.

It’s time to create a list of goals for the next three years. Once again, this includes any novels you want to write or edit, any grants or competitions you specifically want to enter, or whatever other writing goals will lead you to your final destination. If you want to be a famous novelist, make goals relating to writing, editing and submitting novels. Do the same for short stories if that’s where your interest lies. Aim to have a certain number of subscribers to your blog or hits on your website. My three year plan hopes to see Moonshadow’s Guardian either on submission or happily at a new home and the same for the novel I’m currently finishing.

Once you’ve got those plans, it’s pretty simple to figure out what you need to do next year. My goals for next year involve editing Moonshadow’s Guardian once, sending it to beta readers, editing it again and then hopefully submitting it for publication by August of next year. It also includes one full rewrite of the novel I’m currently finishing. Another goal is to write and submit one short story each month next year. These goals are designed to help me reach my long term goals of sustaining myself and being a well known name. Your goals should be designed to do the same thing.

Remember that these goals are probably going to change somewhat, and that’s okay. In fact, you should closely examine your goals every six months to see if they’re working for you. It’s important not to push yourself towards things you’ve realized you don’t really want to do. I’m not going to look hard for non-fiction work because I don’t want to. But I am going to write more this year and submit more. That’s my passion.

It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do. I hope this has helped you work on your goals for next year. I’ll be posting my complete list, with the specific reason for each goal, closer to the end of the year.

What kinds of goals do you think you’ll be making for 2012?

Market Listings December 16th

I decided to start with market listings instead of a prompt because I figure there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a short story sitting around somewhere that really should be sent out–or back out. Or maybe you’ve got a story that just needs one last good polish. Or maybe you’ve just written a story and you haven’t started editing it yet. The point is, you probably already have a story lying around, and I’m hoping you’ll consider sending it to one of these markets.

The First Line Short Fiction Magazine This market is good for those of you who don’t have a story. The First Line gives you the first line of your story and asks you to write the rest. If you write something particularly awesome, they’ll publish it and you’ll get paid. The first lines for 2012 stories are already up, so get to work making something. They pay $30 for short stories and $20 for non-fiction. They prefer short stories between 300 and 3000 words.

The Colored Lens The Coloured Lens will take speculative short fiction of up to 10, 000 words and even serialized novels up to 20, 000 words, but you have to query for the latter. They pay $20 per short story, and for novellas they pay $20 for the first 10, 000 words and $1 for every thousand words after that.

Ideomancer Ideomancer is looking for speculative short fiction up to 7, 000 words, and they will pay you 0.03 cents per word to a maximum of $40. They also publish poetry, and they pay a flat rate of $6 per poem.

These markets don’t pay at the professional level of five cents per word, but quite frankly, very few markets actually pay their authors that much anyway. If you’re thinking of submitting to one of these markets but you’re afraid, that’s okay. Submitting a short story for the first time is scary. But you can do it, and believe you me, you’ll feel much more like a writer after you do.

If you manage to get published at one of these magazines please let me know. I’d love to hear your success stories, and hopefully someday soon I can share one of my own.

Musa Author Interview: Cindi Myers


Today I’d like to introduce Cindi Myers, the first of many Musa authors I will be interviewing. She writes romance as well as women’s fiction. It’s a pleasure to have her here today. I hope this interview will be as interesting for you as it has been for me.

1.Can you tell us a bit about your books with Musa Publishing?

Most of my books with Musa Publishing are historical romances set in the American West. I have a strong interest in American history. The most recent title was a debut title for Musa — West With the Wind, set on the wagon trains to California; and a contemporary romantic comedy The Handsomest Prince.

2. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I was 8 or 9 I read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I decided that I wanted to write stories for a living.

3. What were some of the first steps you took towards becoming a published author?
I wrote a lot. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and I eventually joined a critique group of other writers, then I joined local writer’s groups and began submitting my work.

4. When did you start blogging? How did it change you as a writer?
I have produced a market newsletter for more than 10 years as a way of sharing what I have learned about markets for writing. Several years ago I converted this into a blog format because it was easier for me to keep it up that way. The only other blogging I’ve done is guest posts to promote my work. I enjoy the blogs I’ve done but I don’t think it’s changed the way I write.

5. How do you plan out a novel?
I make a fairly detailed outline. I start by making notes about what I know about the story and the characters, and I fill in blanks as I learn more or as I figure out what is missing.

6. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? How have you learned to make it easier for yourself?
Every book is different. Some books I struggle more with self-doubt. Some books the hardest part is fighting a tough deadline. Others it’s fitting writing in around other demands in my life. Some books the middle drags on forever. I guess the only thing I’ve learned is that the writing process changes constantly and you do the best you can to roll with it.

7. How did you prepare to submit your work to Musa Publishing?
I don’t think I did anything special — I queried the editor about a couple of manuscripts I had and she asked to see them.

8. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for aspiring writers to remember?
Don’t give up. It can take a lot of persistence to break in. And never stop searching for ways to improve. Listen to editors and learn from them.

9. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to garden, to hike and to ski in the winter. I also enjoy knitting, quilting, and cooking. And of course reading.

10. Any idea what you’re going to write next?
I have so many projects I want to write. Right now I have three projects in various stages of completion — another historical romance, a contemporary women’s fiction and a contemporary romance.

Cindi Myers is the author of more than forty published novels. Her historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction have garnered praise from reviewers and readers alike and several have been Waldenbooks Bestsellers. Her October 2005 release, Learning Curves, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly which lauded her “true-to-life, sympathetic characters.” Her 2008 release, The Right Mr. Wrong, was nominated for a Rita Award from Romance Writers of America. Cindi’s most recent release is The Handsomest Prince, a sexy romantic comedy from Musa Books. Cindi produces a weekly market newsletter at http://www.cindimyersmarketnews.wordpress.com. For more about Cindi, visit her web sites at http://www.cindimyers.com and http://www.romanceofthewest.com

If you’d like to buy one of Cindi’s Musa books, you can do so here.

Thanks for reading guys, and once again a big thank you to Cindi for joining us here at Dianna’s Writing Den.

Finishing Your Novel a Few Hundred Words at a Time

December is a busy month for most people. People who work in retail are almost always working long hours of overtime. People have holiday dinners with family, in laws, groups of friends, their companies. They’re buying Christmas gifts for their relatives. And of course, the regular workload doesn’t just disappear either.

Personally, I’ve taken over more duties for Musa Publishing and I spend most of my time after school working on Penumbra, whether it be for marketing the eMagazine or for the blog. It’s a lot to handle.

But we can’t let our busy lives stop us from finishing our novels. So what we need to do is carve out small chunks of time from our busy schedules to write. Try to get ahead in our other work so that we have more time to write. Cut out one of the TV shows we watch.

Only you can make writing a priority. We all have twenty four hours in a day, and it’s up to you to find the time to write. Even if you can only write for fifteen minutes a day, and even if you only write a couple hundred words that day, at least you’ve written something. As long as you keep hacking away at it, that novel will eventually get done.

Me? I’m making good progress on my novel. I’ve stopped using word padding techniques and it’s really cut down the time it’s taking to get through my plot. My characters are almost ready to storm the castle. It’s hard to find the time to write between school and all my duties for Musa, but it’s what I’ve got to do. It’s what I love to do, too.

Where are you in your novel? How do you find the time to write?

What’s New at Dianna’s Writing Den

You might have noticed the new layout. I’ve chosen a lighter colour scheme and a theme that will allow me to further customize my blog. And this is just the beginning of the upcoming changes here at Dianna’s Writing Den.

The first thing is that I’m bringing back my series of author interviews, this time focusing mainly on Musa authors. I have enough interviews to last me well into January and even a couple guest posts to share with you, and I’m fairly confident I will be able to extend the series beyond that. These interviews will go up on Wednesday.

I’ve also decided to re-introduce prompts to the blog, but this time it will be every two weeks. Every other week I will post a list of 3-5 paying short fiction markets. One of my goals for next year is to write and submit more short fiction, and these posts will serve the purpose of keeping markets in my mind. I hope you’ll join me in the quest to write and submit more short stories.

I’m still finishing my novel and we’ve still got a few weeks before the new year begins, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year for this blog. I plan to open the new year with a series of posts about editing a novel, and then we’re going to get into the messy business of creating a world for a new novel. And of course, I will be running the Dear Diary Workshop again, hopefully this time with some improvements.

Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to talk about finishing that darn novel and re-evaluating your writing goals for the new year.

I hope you’re as excited for 2012 as I am, and I hope that you’ll continue along with me on my journey.

What are some of your plans for the new year?

5 Things to do if You Finished Your Novel

If you’re one of those lucky people who finished their novel in the month of November, you’re probably wondering what to do next. Before you go back to spending all of your hours at the television, consider doing one–or all–of these more productive things.

1. Write a Short Story You’ve spent your whole November in the brutal process of novel creation, which is in some ways just as painful as giving birth. Your novel probably isn’t as cute as most babies either. Anyway, now is a really good time to sit down and write a short story. No commitment, no lofty word goals, and no need to sit down and hack away at it every day for a month. Have some fun. Pick a prompt and work with it, or do something all your own.

2. Read a Good Book Give your wrists a break. I’m sure they’re not feeling to healthy, and your eyes are probably strained too from all that extra computer time. Read a good book to replenish your heart, mind and soul and hopefully inspire you to write more. Pick up an old favourite or try something new. If you haven’t read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I highly suggest you do.

3. Try your hand at a couple Non-Fiction articles We all love fiction. If you didn’t love fiction, you wouldn’t be here. But it’s always good to diversify your income as a writer and to try new things. Give non-fiction a shot. Write up an article about something you already know all about–your favourite sport, your favourite kind of craft, working in the field you work in–and then let it sit. You don’t have to do anything with it; just trying non-fiction is worth the experience.

4. Learn about Editing You’ve got a first draft of a novel. It’s sitting there, on your hard drive, and it sucks. So what should you do? Spend the next month reading books about editing and start figuring out how you’re going to approach that monster. I highly recommend Self Editing for the Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King.

5. Plan your Next Novel You are going to write one eventually, right? Might as well start brainstorming it now, even if you’re going to wait until next November to write it. After all, if you start now, by the time we get to November, you’ll be more than prepared.

Don’t forget to check out the I Finished a Novel, Now What page on the Nanowrimo site. Have some fun, try something new, and enjoy your December.

What are you working on right now?