Blog Archives

Musa Author Interview: Keith Yatsuhashi

Today’s author is debut novelist Keith Yatsuhashi, author of Kojiki, a YA fantasy novel scheduled for release on April 5th. In his youth he was a pro figure skater and now he holds one of the longest titles I’ve ever seen–Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center–as well as a publishing contract with Musa. Please give him a warm welcome and be amazed by the wisdom he’s here to impart upon you.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Kojiki?

Sure Dianna. First let me thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my book. Kojiki is the story of a young woman, Keiko Yamada, who’s lost her way. Her father, her only living relative dies, leaving her rudderless. Desperate to find a new life, she embraces his dying wish, that she go to Japan and find something he calls ‘the Gate.’ Once there, ancient Japanese myths come to life around her. Monsters and powerful Spirits appear in Tokyo, and Keiko learns her father was somehow involved with them.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

When I was a teen, I dabbled at writing but never made it very far, mainly because I didn’t have the skill or patience. In college, no matter the class, my professors routinely commented on how much style my papers had, which made me wonder if I had a talent I didn’t know existed. Then, back in 2003, after the death of my aunt, my father’s last surviving sibling, Kojiki’s story started to grow. I wrote what I thought would be a prologue. That prologue turned into chapter one, then two and so on.

3. A large part of Kojiki takes place in Japan. What inspired you to write about this location?

Family history. My father never spoke much about his family. His sister-in-law told us that my father’s family traced its roots back to the Imperial court and that my grandmother had an ancestor who fought the Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281, during the famous Kami Kaze, the typhoon that wiped out the Mongol army. At a friend’s wedding, the bride’s father, a Japanese national, when introduced, said I had a ‘noble’ name. My wife had none of it. I still have to take out the garbage. Still the stories were so wild, they fired my imagination. Hence, Keiko’s backstory and her father’s involvement with the Spirits that formed Japan–and the world.

4. What kinds of research did you do in order to write well about Tokyo?

I visited Tokyo in late 1983. I was there as a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Team, competing in the World Jr. Figure Skating Championships. Well, the actual competition was in Sapporo, but the entire team went to Tokyo after the competition. The locations are places I visited. I had my hotel, the Takanawa Prince, in an early draft, but it didn’t make the cut. I used Google maps and street view to fill in the gaps in my memory, and to make sure I was was somewhat accurate 🙂 Of course, I took some liberties. Tokyo’s just one of many locations. I set events in Miami, the Carpathian Mountains, the Himalayas and, of course, near Mount Fuji. I’ve been to all but two, the Himalayas and the Carpathians. I’ve been to the mountainous regions in former Yugoslavia, around Sarajevo. Memories of those mountains provided a stand-in for the ones in Romania. My favorite setting is fictional. I looked at an aerial map of Tokyo Bay and thought…hmmm, that’s a pretty clear oval. From there, I came up with the idea that Tokyo Bay is the remnant of a massive volcano. Today’s bay is that volcano’s caldera, destroyed and submerged. A long time ago, one key character had a fortress in the middle of the caldera. While it was active.

5. What made you the only person who could write this book?

Hmmm. That’s a tough question. I suppose, as with anything, a person’s work is the sum of his/her experiences. While none of the events in Kojiki really happened, the voice, the characters, and how they react are all part of me. Plus, I always wanted to read a big, loud, operatic version of the anime and Japanese monster movies I loved as a kid. Kojiki’s an homage to all of that. I guess, one particular piece in the story is unique to me. It has to do with the stereotype of the Japanese running from monsters in terror. I’m really sick of it, so I made a conscious decision to tackle it. In Kojiki, I have reactions from Americans, Europeans, and Japanese. The Americans can’t resist going out for a closer look at the monsters. The Europeans run in terror (see what I did there?), and the Japanese face the threat head on. No panic, no fleeing. None of that garbage. So there!

6. With a strong career and three kids, how do you find time to write?

The wonder of Dragon Dictate and a 1/2 hour commute each way! Today’s technology really makes things easy. You always have a smartphone, tablet, or computer nearby to jot down ideas. My daughter, Caitlin, loves to read and is always after me to see what I’m working on. At times, she’s like a writing partner.

7. What does your editing process look like?

First off, I want to give a BIG thank you to Lorin Oberweger of Free-expressions.com I approached Lorin after a writer’s conference and several rejections. I had no idea what I was doing, and Lorin basically taught me from square one how to look at my writing, how to turn writing into story-telling, and what to look for when reviewing. After that, it’s write, then review, review, review. I’ll rework a chapter as well as I can on the computer, but when it reaches a point that feels right, I’ll transfer it to my Kindle or iPad, so I can read it like a book. That makes all the difference. The document no longer feels like a document; it reads like any other book, which makes it easier to find mistakes.

8. Why did you choose an ebook publisher instead of a print publisher?

Well, I researched Musa and liked what I read. I liked that they have a strong vision and a solid business plan that they stick to. Naturally, they weren’t the only publisher or agent I submitted to. They came back VERY quickly after my submission, though. And while I had full manuscripts out with agents, landing one, if that happened at all, was no guarantee the agent could find a publisher. And there I was, with one that wanted my work. Also, I’ve been to many publishing conferences, twice to Frankfurt, BEA every year since 2007. I’ve met the people at the IDPF and attended one of their conferences. I even arranged for them to do a webinar to my professional colleagues. I’ve seen the growth in ebooks, and I’m impressed. Also, from my professional experience, I know it’s often better to go with a young hungry company than get lost with a larger one. I can’t be happier with my choice; the staff at Musa is fantastic! I haven’t worked with another publisher, so I can’t speak to what the experience is like outside Musa, but I can’t image getting so much time, advice, and guidance from anyone else. It’s not just me either. Every one of their authors get top notch treatment.

9. If you could give an aspiring writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just one? I’ll do 1A and 1B. 1A, of course, is don’t give up. Getting a publisher is a LOOOONG, slow, frustrating process. It’s on the job learning. Which brings me to 1B. I wouldn’t be anywhere if I didn’t contact Lorin Oberweger. So, as far as that goes, hire a professional editor. One who’s willing to mentor you, who can listen to what you’re going through and offer SOLID guidance. Not platitudes, guidance. Lorin did so much more than just edit and improve my MS. She walked me through the submission process, told me what to expect, discussed trends in the industry. God–her input was endless.

10. What are you working on that readers can look forward to?

I’m writing a follow up to Kojiki. It’s not a pure sequel in that the characters from Kojiki, if they show up at all, have cameos only. I’m doing this because Kojiki is a finished story, with–really–one loose thread that I’m tying up here. Going back and throwing the characters into another ‘cataclysmic’ event feels false, so I need to go in a different direction. It will feel familiar, though, I guarantee it. Again, it pays homage to my love of anime and Japan. This time, instead of the mysticism, I’m tackling mecha 🙂 Aside from that, I’m working on a dystopian YA novel with my daughter. It’s all her idea, her story, her characters. I’m basically helping her write it. We’ve only just started, but it has some pretty big themes for teens. The idea of feeling invisible. She’s actually titled it ‘The Invisible’. I have one thriller rattling around in my head. It’ll be a doozy. 🙂

Bio:

Keith Yatsuhashi was born in 1965 in Boston, MA.  He graduated from Northeastern University in 1989 and is currently the Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Keith was a competitive figure skater for ten years, winning the U.S. National Junior Dance Championships in 1984, a bronze medal in the 1983 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, and a silver medal in 1984. In addition to his love for writing, Keith enjoys many hobbies such as golf, reading, and playing football and hockey with his sons.  Keith currently lives in Norfolk, MA with his wife, Kathleen and three children—Caitlin, Jeffrey, and Justin. 

Keith’s big release date is coming, so make sure to watch the Musa website on April 5th so you can grab your copy of Kojiki

Advertisements

The Real Deal by S.S. Hampton

DSC02418

There is an old maxim—“Write what you know.”

True enough, but sooner or later you might want to write about something you do not know anything about. Then what? Give up on the idea? File it away in a dusty filing cabinet with the farewell thought, “Someday”? Or maybe you grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground and command (as a writer friend of mine once said), “You will conform to my wishes!”

Everyone has their own style of research; my style may not be yours, but as long our style works for us that is all that matters.

Okay, let us say you want to write a story about a chimney sweep. Sounds simple, but to make your character and story believable, what exactly does a chimney sweep do? How does the sweep do it? Time to check Wikipedia. Check YouTube. Just Google “chimney sweep” and see what crops up. You will start to develop a database. In the process you will probably uncover details that might have an impact on the plot of your story that you had not foreseen before. And then, it is time for the moment of truth. Go find a real chimney sweep and interview him or her.

Be sure to bring a digital recorder with a lapel microphone—a backup for each is a good idea too. And a pad of paper and working pens.

Preparation for an interview is crucial. After your initial research you now have a far better idea of what questions to ask. Start off with the basics—age, education, hometown, what did the parents do, etc. Married? For how long and what does the spouse think of the chosen vocation? In the early 21st century how does a chimney sweep find work? Internet? Yellow pages? Post notices at rural feed & seed stores? The clothing worn—is that something of a “chimney sweep uniform” or just the person’s chosen clothing?

As the interview progresses do not hesitate to pounce upon an interesting remark or ask the person to clarify a remark. You never know when a stray comment may lead into unexpected and fertile research territory. Be sure to keep your interview to 30-45 minutes, no more than an hour.

And you have it. You conducted your initial research, learned enough to frame proper questions like an old pro, and you conducted an interview. You can now add factual, believable information to your character, to your story.

It will be easier than you think. Tell a person why you want to interview them, buy them a cup of coffee and a slice of pie, and you will discover that people enjoy talking about themselves and their jobs. Your job is to listen.

So, good luck, good research and writing, and enjoy!

PS: You may wonder why I chose a chimney sweep as an example. I read an article in a Colorado Springs newspaper many years ago and was surprised to find such professionals were still around. Since then I have always wanted to include the character of a chimney sweep in one of my stories.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can purchase his books here.

First Frost

firstfrost-500

Today I’d like to take a break from my regular series of interviews and share instead a review of the novel First Frost by Liz DeJesus.

Let’s start with the back cover copy:

Fairytales aren’t real…yeah…that’s exactly what Bianca thought. She was wrong.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

First off, I love the idea of fairy tales being real. I like to believe that every story we tell is true somewhere, so I always enjoy a good story about two worlds. But the other, more unexpected thing that I love about this book is that it shows how frightening it would be to actually live in the world of fairy tales. Imagine, witches able to spy on you through the mirror kept on your dresser. Vengeful fairies who cursed people based on the slightest insult. Princes transformed into all manner of things, possibly right before your eyes. What would you do if you met the Big Bad Wolf?

Even ending up in a Disney version of a fairy tale would be pretty terrifying, and when you consider the parts Disney left out of its stories… The hot iron shoes they made Snow White’s stepmother wear to her wedding. The sheer pain the Little Mermaid felt whenever she moved an inch. The twisted stepsister who cut her foot in half to try and fit in Cinderella’s slipper. The world of fairy tales wasn’t a very nice place.

Bianca, accompanied by her best friend Ming, soon finds herself dealing with many of the worst aspects of fairy tales. Along the way they meet many strange people and creatures, both good and bad, and get enough adventure for a lifetime.

One of my favourite things about First Frost is the friendship between Bianca and Ming. They balance each other well and their friendship remains important throughout the entire story. I love stories that place great importance on non-romantic relationships, and Bianca’s friendship with Ming is one of the best I’ve read in a long time, both in believability and in strength.

All in all, First Frost is a great novel that uses the fairy tales we all know and love and expands upon them in a great way. I had only one complaint: I could have kept reading for another fifty pages. I quite enjoyed how First Frost gave new life to old fairy tale figures, but I still found a few of them to be particularly shallow, including the main villain. If First Frost had delved just a little bit deeper into some of these characters, it would have been better by a hundred times.

That said, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. If you’re somebody who prefers to go by ratings, I’d rate it a 3.5/5

You can purchase your copy of First Frost here.

Author Interview: Charles Suddeth

neanderthalprotocol-200

Please give a warm welcome to today’s author, Charles Suddeth.

* * * *

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Neanderthal Protocol?

It is a thriller, but it has a strong dose of science fiction. It is set in the near future in Louisville, Kentucky. The Supreme Court has ruled that Neanderthals are not human beings. Greg is a physicist working on cold fusion. He gets the results of his DNA test back, and he’s not pleased.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

It just snuck up on me. First it was fun. Then, you mean they’re going to pay me to have fun? More ideas flooded me, and I chose the ones I thought people would enjoy the most.

3. What inspired you to write Neanderthal Protocol?

I’ve always been fascinated with the disappearance and fate of Neanderthals, but I know human nature. Someone, somewhere “married” a Neanderthal. I wrote a short story about a present-day Neanderthal. A friend made a few suggestions, but it took the plot in an entirely different direction and to a novel. I operate under an old principle: Take the reader where the reader is not expecting to go.

4. Your main character, Greg, is working on hydrogen fusion. What exactly is hydrogen fusion?

Hydrogen fusion is the fusion of two hydrogen atoms to produce one helium atom plus energy. Hydrogen bombs and stars produce vast amounts of energy this way. Greg was working on a method to control that fusion and produce heat for electric power. There are several methods under research, but none have been perfected yet.

5. How do you take an idea from a basic concept to a finished manuscript?

Long story. I need to have a good idea of the beginning and the ending of the story before I start writing. Research, lots of research. Once the rough draft is finished, I begin editing, revising and submitting the manuscript to critique groups. I read it aloud until I’m hoarse and my cats hate me.

6. Why did you choose an ebook publisher instead of a print publisher?

My children’s books are print only, so this is an experiment for me. I don’t want the world to pass me by, so I like to try new things. I just bought a Nook. I think that in a few years an equilibrium will be reached, with both print and ebooks taking a stable share of the market.

7. What steps do you take to make your submission package shine?

I edit and revise it over and over again, then I let critique groups and beta readers help me. The first chapter has to go WOW! Then I find something unique about my manuscript, and I write a hook for it, something to catch a busy editor’s eye.

8. How did you market your work?

I am just learning to market ebooks. I am trying social networks, blog tours, and websites for readers. I also belong to organizations like SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and International Thriller Writers. I go to conferences like Killer Nashville (for mystery/thriller writers & readers).

9. If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?

Write what’s inside you, and don’t worry if it’s adult, children’s, fiction, poetry, and don’t try to decide if it’s good or bad right away.

10. What are you working on now that readers can look forward to?

4RV Publishing will release two of my books this spring: SPEARFINGER!, a picture book about a Cherokee witch—the illustrator has this. Experiment 38, a young adult thriller that my editor says is almost done. If Neanderthal Protocol is a success, I have a manuscript that I would like to submit to Musa Publishing when I’m through editing it. Whistle Pig is set in 1955 on the rural Kentucky/Tennessee border. A man and woman try to clear each other’s names. She’s accused of armed robbery and murder. He’s accused of killing a couple in a lover’s triangle. The title is a long story.

Bio: Charles Suddeth was born in Indiana, grew up Michigan, and has spent his adult life in Kentucky. He lives in Louisville with his two cats. He is a graduate of Michigan State University. He belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), International Thriller Writers, and Green River Writers. He likes to spend his days hiking and writing in nearby Tom Sawyer State Park. His first book, Halloween Kentucky Style, was published in October 2010. His second book, Neanderthal Protocol, was published in November 2012.
http://www.ctsuddeth.com
Twitter:@CharlesSuddeth

You can purchase Neanderthal Protocol here.

Musa Author Interview: Liz DeJesus

firstfrost-500
Today’s author is yet another wonderful lady I met through Musa, Liz Dejesus. Please give her a warm welcome.

* * * *

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book?

To make things a little easier I’ll just post the official blurb for the story.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

2. When did you decide you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

Part of me wanted to be like my mom, because she is a writer as well. I’ve always written stories and in my journal (what else is a shy, nerdy girl supposed to do all day?).

But I think the absolute defining moment in my life came when I was 16 years old and one of my teachers read some of the poetry I had written. I remember the look on his face when I came to his classroom the next day. He looked both awestruck and impressed.

“You are a diamond in the rough,” he said. I couldn’t believe he had actually said those words in reference to me. I kept looking behind me to see if he was talking to someone else.

I still remember those words after all these years.

Anyway after that I made it my business to learn everything I could about writing and become a published author.

3. What attracted you to the fantasy genre?

I’ve always loved books about magic and witches. Particularly fairy tales. If it’s a rewritten fairy tale I’m definitely there. I think it has a lot to do with wanting something more out of life. To expect the unexpected.

4. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?

Finding time to write is always the greatest challenge for me. I have two very active little boys here at home (I’m a stay at home mom) so I steal time here and there whenever I can do get my work done.

5. You’ve worked with several publishers. What made you decide to seek different publishers for your different works?

I’ve always been very curious by nature. And my curiosity makes me do research on different companies because I want to find out more about the ins and outs of the publishing industry.

6. How do you make your submission packages shine?

I pay attention to the submission guidelines. Always, always read the guidelines thoroughly before you send anything in. That’s always the first test.

7. What are your preferred marketing methods?

Business cards. I go to moo.com and get these really nice business cards and mini cards made through them. They have a really great quality to them and I’ve sort of become addicted to the site. I also enjoy scheduling blog tours, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great bloggers and reviewers that way.

8. What is one thing you wish you’d done sooner/differently in your writing career?

Paid closer attention to the contracts before signing them. As a new writer you get excited over the fact that someone is interested in your work and you don’t read the contracts. You just sign on the dotted line and figure that they will have your best interest at heart. And some people that I’ve dealt with in the past didn’t. I’ve lost novels and some I fought really hard to get back. And others…unfortunately have stayed lost and I’m unable to get the rights back to one of my books. So that was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

9. If you could give an aspiring writer any one piece of advice, what would it be?

Follow your heart when you’re writing. Listen to your editor. They’re there to help you, to make your manuscript shine. So don’t take it personally, they’re there to help you catch all of the mistakes and plot holes before it goes into print. And read your contract. Sometimes authors forget that publishing is a business. Once contracts, royalties and money are involved it’s all business. Learn as much as you can.

10. What are you working on that readers can look forward to next?

I’m finishing up the edits for Glass Frost (the sequel to First Frost). I’m also working on the third book in the series (tentatively titled Shattered Frost), a new novel, and a few short stories. I also have a few ideas for a steampunk novel.

Bio: Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico. She is a novelist and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi’er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 31st 2011), First Frost (Musa Publishing, June 22nd 2012) and Glass Frost (Musa Publishing, Summer 2013). She is also a member of The Written Remains Writers Guild http://www.writtenremains.org/. Liz is currently working on a new novel.

You can purchase First Frost here.

Musa Author Interview: J.F. Posthumous

headshot(1)

Today’s guest is a debut novelist whose last name is totally real, and one of the most awesome for someone who writes about creatures from hell. Please give a warm welcome to J.F. Posthumous.

* * * *

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Deals with the Devil?

Deals is the first story about Faith (Fi) Wells, a woman who spends her workdays as a computer tech at a shipping company. One Monday, she returns from a short vacation to discover her boss has been fired and replaced by a demon, literally. This doesn’t bother Fi so much, since her father is the right-hand of Satan, and she knows that computers, and especially printers, are from Hell. Finding her old boss murdered and stuffed into a shipping crate does make her life more complicated, though. When the detective assigned to the case turns out to be a devastatingly handsome angel, her world gets a little bit crazier. Fi also takes it on herself to investigate, which brings her to the unwanted attention of the person who killed her old boss.

2. How did you come up with the concept for Deals with the Devil?

Like most people, I complain to my spouse about my day job! One day he asked me “Why don’t you just write a story about all the things that bother you, that way you can figuratively eliminate them?” I replied with “Well, printers are from Hell…” and he laughed, encouraging me to pursue that line of imaginative thinking, and off we went!

3. When did you realize you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a little girl. My husband was already a writer in his own way. He was injured at his last job, and unable to work. We started seriously writing with the intent of getting published, looking to make something from all the time we spent talking about ideas and books we’d like to see. Also, it’s something we do together, and I love doing anything with him that I can.

4. How did you get Deals with the Devil from a raw idea to a publishable manuscript?

Lots and lots of rewrites and analyzing our work. Mark (my husband) and I are always looking to improve our skills as writers. There’s a big stretch between a story a person writes for fun and a manuscript that other people want to read. You have to polish and study what works, learn from mistakes.

5. You actually co-write with your husband. How did you first start writing together?

Mark had already written a full-length manuscript for an adventure fantasy called “Darkflower’s Prize” and I loved it. I wanted to write a similar book, and also wanted an excuse to spend more time with him (we weren’t together at the time). I asked him to help me, he wound up co-writing the work. We just kept developing our writing and personal relationship. Now we’re married and published! *laughs*

6. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced that are specific to co-writing?

We work at different paces and have different strengths. I want to write all the time. Mark prefers to pace it out, because he doesn’t want to get burned out and end up writing useless material. Also, he’s the house hubby, so while I’m on my lunch break at work or wanting to destress from work, he’s sometimes busy keeping our apartment in order and handling the kids, along with cooking, etc. I’m raring to go, and he’s telling me things like “I’ve got to put the groceries away!” or “Our daughter just kicked our youngest son in the crotch for cheating on a Wii game!” So we clash in that way sometimes. Another problem is although we communicate really well, we don’t always have the same ideas, or make each other understand where we’re going on a project. There are, shall we say, heated debates when that happens. But we always wind up in the same place, eventually.

7. How did you find/choose Musa Publishing?

Querytracker.com. It’s a great place to find publishers and agents. I also double-checked them with Absolute Write Water Cooler, a forum for writers both published and unpublished. Musa sounded like a great company to be with, so I sent them a query and crossed my fingers. Like any aspiring author, I sent queries to a lot of publishers. The trick, once you’ve got a good manuscript, is to hit a publisher when they are looking for material like yours. There’s no easy way for it. You keep at it until the timing lines up and someone you’ve queried is looking for what you’re presenting. We were very fortunate that Musa was looking.

8. What are some of the ways you’ve been marketing Deals with the Devil?

We’re setting up a website, but we’re already developing a following on Facebook. We’ve also participated in a blog hop for our publisher and have blogs posts set up to be posted onto Musa’s website. We tell our friends about the book, especially when we’re working with them on indie movie projects, music, parties, getting them interested so they’ll talk to others about Deals. We’ve already gotten our local libraries excited about buying copies to have available to their customers. They love the idea of having something from local authors who’ve gotten published.

9. If you could give an aspiring writer just one piece of advice, what would it be?

Research! That means live life, read a lot of books, ask questions about everything. The more informed you are about what you’re writing, the better your work will be. Also, remember that your work is read by others–there are going to be some ideas that sound great to you, but most other people just won’t be interested in.

10. What are you working on next that readers can look forward to?

We are working on the second Fi Wells book, tentatively titled “The Devil on Set.” Fi once again stumbles across a body, but this time it’s while she’s on the movie set for an Indie remake of the horror classic “White Zombie.” The lead actor is actually a ghoul (re:zombie) and of course, most people who know this fact think that she’s guilty just because of that. Fi doesn’t agree, and her snooping around gets that gorgeous angel detective in danger. So she’s got to solve the case, bring the killer to justice, and save her white knight! Beyond that, we also just finished a trilogy of manuscripts centered on another strong female lead, who’s a combination of Wonder Woman, Elektra, and the Shadow. We’re hoping to polish that series and get it published as well.

Bio:

Brianna Soloski on Becoming a Freelancer

Today’s guest is another Musaling, this time an editor and freelancer to bring you a totally new perspective. Please give Brianna Soloski a warm welcome.

* * * *

When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher or an author. I went to school for education, but ended up not going into that field. I was working at a preschool, but was laid off in 2008. I floundered for two years after that, moving a few times, not working, unsure what I wanted to do. Summer 2010 found me in Seattle working at a summer camp. It also led to a long chat with my cousin about what I really wanted to do with my life. She suggested I go back to writing, since I’d always enjoyed it and been relatively good at it. I turned that over in my head for a few weeks. When I got home, I began volunteering at the Jewish Community Center in Las Vegas. I also got wind of a local city lifestyle
magazine that was just starting up. I called the editor and asked if there were any volunteer/internship positions available. I got a volunteer gig putting together the print calendar – a tedious, time-consuming job nobody else wanted to do. As time went on, I got more responsibility. About a year and a half ago, the editor who had hired me quit and I moved into the (now paid) position of editorial assistant. I still do the calendar, but I also write and edit for the magazine.

From there, writing just became a natural habit. I participated in National Novel Writing Month in 2010 and had that novel published in October 2012. In 2012, I made the decision to freelance full-time. I run a freelance editing business that is thriving. I work for an award-winning magazine. I have as much time to write as I need. I can come and go as I please. I still work at the Jewish Community Center part-time, but I’m hoping to have enough business to phase that out by the summer.

How I came to Musa Publishing was kind of accidental. I had recently read Twin Sense by Lydia Sharp (amazing!) and sought out the website to see what other books they had to offer. There were a few freebies so I picked those up. I signed up for their newsletter. Just for kicks, I clicked on the employment page, just to see if anything was available. There was a head line editor position open, so I applied, even though I wasn’t sure I was completely qualified for the job. Turns out, I wasn’t, but I was offered a line editor position, which I accepted.

I’ve edited four books for them now and I absolutely love it. Line editing is the process of going through a work line by line to check for errors. I do not edit for content (although I do offer content editing through my personal business). The opportunity to read great books is wonderful. The experience is invaluable and will help me as I move through my career and take on other jobs.

The thing about Musa that really shines is their professionalism. In a little more than a year, they’ve published a remarkable number of books. Every title I’ve read from them has been excellent – well written, well edited, etc. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to an author looking for a home for their book. In fact, it’s highly likely I will submit my current work in progress to them for possible publication.

Bio: Brianna Soloski is an avid reader and writer. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Sierra Nevada College. She also obtained her teaching credentials from the college. Although she’s not currently teaching, she enjoys spending time with her friends’ kids. In her spare time, she loves to travel and would love to book
a world cruise – imagine the memoir that could come from an adventure like that! Girl Seeks Place is available for purchase on Amazon. She can be found blogging at http://www.girlseeksplace.wordpress.com. She can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brianna-Soloski-Writer.

Musa Author Interview: Viki Lyn

VL_TheHunterWithin_coverlg

Today’s author is one of a different breed than we usually see around here. Her name is Viki Lyn, and she writes m/m romance. She’s written several books and worked with Musa Publishing for quite some time, but today she’ll be talking mostly about a novel published by Loose Id entitled The Hunter Within. Please give her a warm welcome.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, The Hunter Within?

The Hunter Within is a sequel to The Tiger Within – an m/m shape shifter romance set during the late 1940’s. Antoine, a shape shifter white tiger, has fallen in love with agent Jack Hunter. Both are agents with a shadow organization that fights other worldly creatures. Jack had been captured during the war and experimented on – becoming a super soldier of incredible strength.

Because of his new identity, Jack has to leave behind his wife and his past. Closeted, he is not comfortable with his homosexuality, but Antoine doesn’t give up on his soldier. In The Hunter Within, Jack must come to terms with his sexual nature, and his love for Antoine, and if he should tell his wife the truth, that he IS alive.

2. When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?

When I sold my first story, I realized that I enjoyed having my book published. I also began to take writing seriously, knowing while it was a creative outlet, and I had a passion for writing, I also had to treat it as a business. Sometimes the business aspect of writing gets in the way, but I love my job!

3. You write gay romance. Do you find it difficult to write from the POV of someone who is a different gender than you?

My first books were m/f romances – seven published books before I switched to gay romance. I always enjoyed writing male characters. They were just more interesting to write.

4. What are some of the things you do to get into the POV of your characters?

I live with my characters in my head. Ideas about how they behave come to me at weird times – in the shower, driving, sipping coffee at the coffee house…I’m always on the alert. Sometime I play act the scene. A fellow writer taught me that trick, and it works.

5. Why–other than the hot boys, of course–did you choose to write m/m romance?

I love reading the genre, and therefore, love writing it. As I said before, I prefer writing the male POV, so it makes sense I’d love writing the POV’s of two male characters.

6. How much planning do you do before each novel?

It depends on the length of the novel, and if it’s a contemporary or paranormal. Paranormals take more world-building, therefore more research. Right now I’m writing an angel story. I have done plenty of research on Catholic angelology, Latin phrases, and Greek architecture…it goes on and on. And, I’m always changing my story line – although I already wrote the synopsis for it! I tend to write the first three or four chapters without an outline, and then I go back and plot out the story. So I’m a pantser and plotter.

7. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?

Staying focused. I like having odd hours and I have another life besides writing. I love spending time with my friends and family – and they are my priority. I don’t work well having a set writing schedule. I probably would publish more books if I did, but I don’t work that way. I publish an average of three books per year.

8. Can you tell us a bit about the process of creating a submission package?

Sure. All publishing houses have their own submission process, so be sure to go to their website and see what they need. Usually I submit the first three chapters and a synopsis (think of a synopsis as an outline of the story, including the ending). The email contains my query – which tells the editor the genre, word count and a short blurb of what the story is about.

9. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for aspiring writers to remember?

To never give up – and keep writing. I have been publishing books since 2006. I still get rejections, and I learned to shut out bad reviews. I focus on writing, and improving my craft. My main goal is to write entertaining romantic stories for my readers. As long as they are happy with my work, then I’m happy.

10. What are you working on right now that readers can look forward to?

I wrote a short story – Lover’s Trill – about two musicians who reunite in Vienna, giving them a second chance at love. It’s included in More Love Notes anthology published by Musa Publishing.

I finished John’s Match, Book 3 of my Woodland Village series. It’s a contemporary romance set in Woodland Village – a fictional East coast town. The first book is Blue Skye, and the second book is Ryan’s Harbor. In John’s Match, the boys are back! Skye, Drew, Ryan and Martin and John Kramer, Ryan’s CFO and VP. He meets up with a temperamental writer, Scott Marwick. It will be released this April with Musa Publishing.

I want to write book 3 of my vampire series I have out with Loose Id (Last Chance and Fighting Chance). I’m toying with the idea of writing Victor’s story – Corbin’s Kresnik uncle. We’ll see how far I get with this. I have all sorts of ideas in my head, so we’ll see which character cries out the loudest!

Bio: Once I wrote my first gay romance, I was hooked. Now I write about two sexy men as my heroes instead of one.

What inspires me – the reality that romance between lovers is a hope more than a guarantee. My stories are an eclectic mix of contemporary and paranormal, but it is always romance that drives the story to its final happily-ever-after.

I drink a book a day for nourishment. Collect yaio and comics. I’m totally in lust with the Dark Night and his prodigal Robin aka Nightwing!

There’s nothing better than trying out a new restaurant with close friends, having dessert and coffee at my local coffeehouse or laughing hysterically with my sisters over silly things. Some of my favorite movies reveal the truth, that I’m a sentimental girl at heart: Something’s Gotta Give, Latter Days, Lord of the Rings, Sense and Sensibility and North and South (the BBC series).

You can purchase The Hunter Within here.

Plotting in Three Parts


Today I’d like to introduce Anne Marie, author of La Dame a La Licorne, brought to you by Musa Publishing. This will be her ninth year participating in Nanowrimo. Lucky for those of you scrambling for ideas and trying to figure out how you’re going to outline a novel before November first, Anne’s got some ideas of her own about outlining which I hope you’ll enjoy.

For the past eight years I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (aka: NaNoWriMo or NaNo). Every year I’ve tried a different approach to writing. I wanted to prove to myself that there isn’t one way to tell a story, and the methods outside my comfort zone might actually work better. Besides, what’s comfortable about writing 50,000 words in one month? Answer: everything when you’ve got the NaNo community with you each step of the way.

There are at least three types of writers: Outliner, Beader, and Pantser. I’ll detail each method, and what to do before and during November. I hope it helps you reach the finish line on November 30th (or earlier).

The Outliner:

You’re the type of writer that wants to know exactly how you get from the beginning to the ending. You write pages and pages of detailed character sketches, setting description, research notes, twists and turns, and how each scene will play out.

Before NaNo, make sure you don’t write down any dialogue or actually description you’re going to use. It’s tempting to dive in before October. If you get stuck, put your outline away for a week. Return to it with a fresh mind and see if you can improve it during the last week before November 1st.

During NaNo it’s helpful to check your outline and make sure you’re on track word-wise. There is no set word count for a scene; however, if you have twenty-five scenes that run two thousand words, and you write a scene a day, you’ll finish with days to spare. Since the daily word goal actually is 1,667, you might want to write a scene with that word count in mind. For a thriller writer, your scenes may be shorter to keep the pace fast. That’s fine! Just know, roughly, how many scenes it will take to reach that daily goal.

The Beader:

Much like the Outliner, you have a pretty good idea how your story starts, important scenes in the middle, and how it ends. What you don’t yet know are the linking scenes between big events.

Before NaNo, the big scenes are what excited you to begin with. Concentrate on how to link the explosion on page 1 with the alien invasion on page 15. Read books in your genre. Talk to your friends. Ask them how they would logically get from explosions to aliens. Day-dream.

During NaNo, your daily payoff will be to write those explosions and invasions. Which means, you should start each day writing the linking scenes. Your reward will be writing those scenes you’ve been thinking about since October. And rewards never hurt. If you don’t make your daily goal with a linking scene and a big scene, write half of the next linking scene. Generally, you’re going to be writing more linking scenes than explosions.

The Pantser:

You throw caution and preparation to the wind. You might have a vague idea about the topic you want to write about, you might not. You might know a character’s name, but then again, you probably don’t.

Before NaNo, it might be helpful to brainstorm some big general ideas that won’t tie your free spirit down. Where do you want to start? Where do you want to end? It’s always helpful to have an ending in mind, so that you know where to steer your NaNo ship.

During NaNo, every day is going to be a new adventure. Sit down and follow your characters. Throw everything in their way. They want to go to the mall today? Make it rain. Give them a flat tire. When you get stuck, stop and think about how you’d get out of the situation they’re in. Make it worse.

Whether you’re an Outliner, Beader, or Panster, NaNo teaches you how to embrace your style in thirty days. Remember, this isn’t a polished piece. If things aren’t flowing the way you want them to, don’t delete. Put a note in the document. Trace your steps back to the last point the story was working. Continue writing from there. When you go back to edit, you can delete all the non-working words. When I know I’ve gone on a dead-end tangent, I make all the text red.

Good luck! I hope to see your purple “Winners” bar on November 30th. To follow along with my progress, you can find me here.

Bio: Anne attended the University of Colorado for a BA in English Literature, where she fell in love with folklore and myths from around the world. She adores languages, great white sharks, and the impossible. Her work usually includes one of those three things. She currently lives in Aurora, Colorado with Brody the beagle. Once a week, she posts a short story at Cimmerian Tales (http://cimmeriantales.wordpress.com). You can follow her on Twitter @annemariewrites.

The Best Weapon by Martin Bolton and David Pilling

I originally met Martin Bolton through Musa. One of Urania’s many authors, he generously provided me with my first ever guest post, and, even better gave me a copy of his co-written fantasy novel to review. Due to a combination of mountains of homework and other obligations, it took me about two months longer than expected to finish the Best Weapon, but I can say it was certainly worth the wait.

The Best Weapon is the story of two brothers created by the ‘Lords of Hell’ as a last ditch effort to save themselves from an unnamed evil force. These brothers, Naiyar and Fulk, are placed on opposite ends of the planet so they won’t draw attention to themselves or discover themselves until the time is right. This book tells the tale of these brothers discovering their true natures and finding each other. Each faces trials which test their will power and strength while showing them that they are more than human.

From the very first scene—the scheming ‘Lords of Hell’ creating the two sons—I was entranced by this novel. I greatly enjoyed the vastly different cultures Naiyar and Fulk belonged to. Both Naiyar’s Djanki and Fulk’s Templars were created with tender care and great detail. While both sons came from deeply religious warrior cultures, the similarities end there. From the dress to the food to the rituals, the reader is shown just how different these two cultures are—and how beautiful, and twisted, each is in its own way.

As a writer, I find it incredible that these two authors managed to create a masterpiece together. I’ve never co-written anything, and to be honest, I’m afraid co-writing would lead to a lot of conflict for me; I have an incendiary personality and I don’t play well with others. So the fact that this world and book were brought together seamlessly by two authors is particularly impressive to me. While I’m pretty sure each writer took on the perspective of one son, there’s no noticeable change in style or writing quality, so you’d never be able to pinpoint which part is which author.

All in all, The Beast Weapon is well worth reading. It involves conflict at every level imaginable, fight scenes on a grand scale, incredible sacrifice and suffering for both brothers, and a beautifully detailed world. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to review it and I highly recommend you purchase your copy today—and with any luck, you’ll be seeing these two lovely authors here for an interview sometime in the coming months. If I had to give this book a rating out of five stars, I’d give it four out of five stars because it’s a great book but it never quite moved me to tears, which is to me the mark of a book that surpasses even the idea of great.

You can purchase your copy of The Best Weapon here.

Martin Bolton was born in Cornwall in 1979 and now lives and works in Bristol. Previously he concentrated on his artwork and writing small pieces of nonsense for the amusement of his friends, before deciding to do some serious creative writing. His first published work, a full length novel co-written with David Pilling, is The Best Weapon, is due to be released by Musa Publishing on 02 March 2012. His work is inspired by authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Robert E Howard, Bernard Cornwell and Iain M. Banks.