Tag Archives: fiction

The Beginning of the Journey

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When I woke up this morning, I had a notice about a new Blog post from one of the Blogs I subscribe to. That post was by Jenny Turner, who writes as J.R. Turner. Her Blog was entitled “The End of the Road.” I was going to respond on her Blog, but then I decided that I would do it here and toss in a few other things.

In her Blog, Jenny talks about the changes in her life. One of the things she mentions is the reversion of all her rights. Anyone who knows the situation, knows I was Jenny’s publisher. I have already had one person ask me what happened, why I reverted her rights to everything, like there was some horrible altercation or something. Let me be clear, I reverted Jenny’s rights because her contracts expired and she had previously embarked on her journey as a self-publisher. Jenny was with Echelon Press for nearly the entire time of its existance and she will always remain a part of its history, and a very important part.

Jenny is one of the most talented writers I have ever met. Her wit is sharp, her style is enchanting, and her ability is stunning. She tells a story almost as good as any writer I know. I sincerely hope that when she has reissued her works in her own venue that you will offer her the support she so richly deserves. If you have not read her work, you should, you will not be sorry!

I wanted to write this post to ensure Jenny and anyone who enjoys an awesome story knows that despite how Jenny described it, this is not the End of the Road for her, it is the beginning of an awesome journey.

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Above and Beyond (Bookstore Spotlight by J.A. Campbell)

Calico Books is a new and used bookstore in Broomfield, Colorado. It is owned by the same people who own Booklovers in Fort Collins, Colorado and their daughter, Becky, runs the store. I first met Becky through a mutual friend. As soon as Becky found out I was a soon to be published Author, she started talking about trying to help promote my writing. We hit it off right away and chat regularly. 

Calico Books’ services include accepting used books in trade for store credit, new and used books, and promoting local authors. They also order hard to find, out of print and new books for customers, have a watch and reserve list and provide free coffee. They are dog friendly, and even have treats on hand. Becky also tries to have events regularly for customers and authors, so watch the store calendar. 

One of the things that we put together and are still experimenting with is our Remote Author events.  “The Remote Author Event was conceived when I was discussing with a couple friends, via twitter, how I’d love to be able to support them and their writing. The catch was, that their books were either in eBook format… or they didn’t live in Colorado,” says Becky. 

So we chatted via twitter and gtalk and came up with a way to have local authors and remote authors visit the store. 

“In this way, Calico Books can host eBook authors as “Host Authors” and sponsor their novels (although we cannot sell them, ourselves) while also being able to sell a not-so-local author’s books and have them visit the shop without airfare, hotels, or food bills to worry about. Granted, I’ve focused on Local Authors for my new-book section in the shop, but with the digital age… I’m more than happy to help support others who are further away along with getting to support our locals whose books are in digital format.” 

It’s a great opportunity to find ways to keep independent bookstores in the loop during the push towards eBooks. 

“Why bother with this Remote Author Event over a traditional signing? Because the traditional methods are very quickly going to become out-dated. Digital books are being published far more readily than print-books. This isn’t to say that print-books are going by the wayside, but there has been a huge surge in the sheer amount of published books through the availability of eBooks. A publisher can far more easily “take a chance” on an eBook than a print-book and the initial release of the eBook may very well lead to a print-contract.” 

So stop on by for some free coffee and good reads. Becky’s vast knowledge of books will be sure to assist you in finding just the right book, even if it happens to be digital.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CalicoBooks

Twitter: @CalicoBooks

Web site/Blog: http://blog.calicobooks.com/

J.A. Campbell (Julie) writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Her first young adult novel, Senior Year Bites, is now available at a number of retailers, including Kindle.

Following the Dream (Bookstore Spotlight by Ellis Vidler)

“In the days of the eReader, author events are the saving grace of the bricks and mortar bookstore. They provide opportunities for authors and readers to meet, and readers can ask questions and gain insights into the author’s thinking or reasons for a particular scene or character.” So says Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction, an independent bookstore in Greenville, South Carolina. Ten years ago Jill, an avid reader and book lover, followed her dream and opened her own bookstore. She must be doing something right, because Fiction Addiction is still going strong. She features authors in the store, cooperates with a local restaurant in offering luncheons and talk or readings with visiting authors, and maintains a charming bookstore.

 Fiction Addictioncarries more fiction than non-fiction and has all genres, from mainstream to erotica to children’s books. Jill says they do the most business in mystery, then regional fiction. After that it’s science fiction, with children’s books their fourth largest-selling product. Series are quite popular—readers get to know the characters and want to see more.

While open to small presses that offer standard discounts and returns, Fiction Addiction works primarily with the three major distributors. It’s much easier for a bookstore to work through a big distributor and not have to go through setting up an individual account with an individual publisher for one book signing, when that may be the only involvement with that publisher.

Independent bookstores offer a number of services not always found in larger or big-box stores or online. They bring many authors to the store who wouldn’t normally be in the area, have a selection of used books, are happy to make recommendations, and will gladly order specially for a customer. One of the disappointments, however, is to have a customer take advantage of the extra services Fiction Addiction works hard to provide and then have that customer order online to save a little money.

She’s finding hardback sales are slowing in favor of eBooks, but mass market and trade paperback are still fairly strong. EBooks are certainly having an impact, and Jill would like to sell them but can’t at present. She says it requires an ABA website, which Fiction Addiction doesn’t have. Maybe there’s an opportunity for an individual publisher to set up something.

Jill definitely sees a new generation of readers coming along. One of the benefits of the Harry Potter series, aside from interesting children in reading, was convincing them they could read longer books and making them proud of holding up a 700-page book and saying, “I read this!”

Children are becoming more sophisticated in their reading now, looking for more involved plots. The Olympian series by Rick Riorden sparked much interest, and now young readers are clamoring for his new series. Another thing is that since the Twilight books came out, more adults are reading Young Adult (YA) novels.

 Fiction Addictionis located on Woodruff Road across from Costco in Greenville. The website is http://www.fiction-addiction.com Stop by and look around. Jill and her staff will be glad to recommend something to your taste or place an order for that special book.

Find Fiction Addiction:

Twitter: @FictnAddictn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FictionAddictionBookstore

A Handshake:
1020 Woodruff Road
Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 675-0540

 

Ellis Vidler is a writer and editor. She won the South Carolina Writers Conference prize for short fiction and was a finalist in or won a few contests. Her first novel, Haunting Refrain, was published by Silver Dagger Mysteries. She is currently a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America and lives with her husband and dogs in the South Carolina piedmont.

Her new book, The Peeper, is co-authored with Jim Christopher.

This is the short version. If you really want to know more about her writing history, click here.

All Depends on How You Look At It (Marc Vun Kannon)

This is my last blog tour stop before my latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, becomes officially available, and I will be in South Carolina at their Book Festival in Columbia (May 14 – 15, 2011) on that happy day (Sunday, if you must know). And I hope you must, since I’d really like for you guys to be there to help me celebrate the official release of the world’s first Gothic SF novel. I invented the category, so I oughtta know. There are other SF novels written in the Gothic style, but they go the usual route of assimilating all the Gothic stuff into the SF trope of the day (it’s amazing what you can blame on biotech and some nanobots in a low-gravity environment). St. Martin’s Moon isn’t one of them.

I’ve spent literally years trying to figure out how to describe this book. I could do one-liners, what they call taglines. I could do two-liners, the sort of short description you’d find in a TV guide, what they call a logline, but don’t ask me why ‘cause I don’t know. I even came up with a good back-cover description. But anytime I get closer to the plot than that I get tangled in all the strings.

The reason for the confusion, I decided, was in the genre I was using to categorize the damn thing. Why would a mere genre category do that, you ask? How could it? Well, genres are a sort of shorthand, a kind of box we put stories into so that someone looking for a story of a particular type can find one easily. The problem comes when a story doesn’t really fit into any particular type. Then the shorthand becomes something of a straitjacket. One would think a novel with werewolves and ghosts in it would fit neatly into the heading of a paranormal. Since it took place on a lunar colony it clearly was futuristic, right?

Yeah, me too.

While the story does have werewolves in it the story really isn’t about them, it’s about the people who become them. How do they live with the curse? Where does the curse even come from? Why does the Moon matter, and a full Moon, at that? These are all questions that the main character, Joseph Marquand, Earth’s greatest werewolf hunter, would like to know the answers to, because he hates his job. Killing the wolf means killing the man, usually an innocent man. When his latest case involves a werewolf attack on the Moon itself, it drives these questions from his mind in favor of something more immediate, but not far, not far at all.

In short, the story is more futuristic than paranormal, and more SF than merely futuristic. SF looks for answers, takes for granted that there are answers, which gives it something in common with the mystery novel St. Martin’s Moon was originally conceived as. Except that SF doesn’t allow for ghosts. It could handle werewolves, I think, since they have a trigger and are stoppable. Ghosts somehow don’t seem to fit into the same bucket. There’s a reason for this, I think, and I don’t think science will ultimately be able to account for ghosts any more than they’ll make a truly AI computer. So SF is fair game, in my opinion, to have a few genuine ghosts appear in its otherwise unhaunted halls. If I could have worked in a dark and stormy night I would have, but hey, it’s a lunar colony we’re talking about here. A haunted one.

Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don’t ask me why. Others followed, until now I’m afraid to go out of the house with a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!

You can also check out his really cool Blog

Other things to read by Marc Vun Kannon:

Unbinding the Stone
A Warrior Made
Ex Libris
Steampunk Santa
Bite Deep
Chasing his own Tale

The Wrong Guy (Guest Blog: Claudia Whitsitt)

On a sunny afternoon about four years ago, I plopped myself on a sandy beach in La Jolla, California and played what if. What if I wrote a book about a turning point? What if I added mystery and suspense? What if I connected it to an event in my own life that I could access in the blink of an eye?

Many years ago, I attended Eastern Michigan University on the heels of the arrest of John Norman Collins, the chief suspect of The Michigan Murders. He was accused of murdering seven college co-eds at my university. Life was scary enough for a college freshman then—the Detroit Riots had shocked my neighborhood two years previous, the Vietnam War loomed in the background, and I was a frightened, naïve Catholic girl. Though the memories of these events, and the creative joy of fiction, The Wrong Guy was born.

The main character, Katie Hayes, is a lot like me, except prettier, and taller. She heads off to school armed with her rosary and her Nancy Drew mysteries. Her best friend, Janie, is the carbon copy of my college roommate—wild and crazy. Enter crisis and mystery. One girl is assaulted, another kidnapped. Even though the cops have the likely suspect behind bars, no one can help but wonder if they haven’t apprehended The Wrong Guy.

I had a ton of fun writing this coming of age mystery. I hope you have a ton of fun reading it.

$2.99 [OmniLit][Kindle][KindleUK][KindleGE][Nook][Smashwords] $2.99

Claudia Whitsitt, a seasoned special education teacher and the mother of five grown children, is a Michigan native and lover of both reading and writing. As a young girl, she was inspired by Nancy Drew mysteries. Her passion for mystery spurred the penning of her own mystery, The Wrong Guy, loosely based on her college years and the Michigan Murders. Claudia began her writing career five years ago. During that time, she has written two additional novels, Identity Issues, and Two of Me. Claudia was honored to have won the 2010 Hummingbird Review/Southern California Writer’s Conference contest with her essay, One Last Pearl. The essay appeared in the Summer/Fall edition of the Hummingbird Review. Claudia can be reached through her website, www.claudiawhitsitt.com.

Characters Across Genres

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Often I am asked, “What’s your favorite genre to write?”

And often I reply, “Um. All of them!”

It’s a completely honest answer. My first published novel, released this past summer, is of the spy genre. The next book, slated for June, is a dystopian. Fantasy was the genre of the first long story I ever completed (writing with my sister, good memories). An Oregon Trail journal turned into a seventy-page piece in sixth grade. In my writing thus far I’ve also dabbled in ghost, school, contemporary, perhaps gritty (I say perhaps because I’m still not sure what that means, Google refuses to clear it up for me—perhaps I should try Bing?), murder mystery, and sibling stories.

While I know some authors prefer to stick to one or a few related genres, I enjoyed different aspects of all of them and had equal fun while writing. Therefore, the first time someone asked me about genres—a reporter for my school newspaper—led me to spend about an hour and a half in deep contemplation. (The alternative was math homework, so it worked out.) I came to the conclusion I placed more value in the characters of a story than the genre, or even the plot. The plot, to me, is a device to portray characters. My characters are the personalities I slip into or interact with (fictionally), and I work a plot around them, creating believable and changed people by “The End.” Plus, the characters supply dialogue, description, action…the plot wouldn’t happen without them!

Because the plot is a tool my characters use to propel themselves to the last page, the genre is also a secondary matter. If my characters fit best into a ghost story because one feels guilty over the death of another, then a ghost story it is. If another set of characters need disguises and secrets to best be themselves, I formulate a spy story. If the characters in my mind are best suited for overcoming severe societal challenges and barriers not yet in existence, we create a dystopia.

So, in essence, I’m not sure which genre is my favorite—or maybe all of them are, because until my next character shows up in my mind calling out, “Idea! Idea! I have an idea!!!” I don’t even know what my next genre will be.

Kieryn

www.kierynnicolas.com

http://twitter.com/KierynNicolas

http://www.kierynnicolas.blogspot.com/

Would You Care for Some Humor With Your Homicide, Madam?

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I’ve been addicted to murder mysteries since the age of six when I discovered the Nancy Drew series was far more intriguing than the adventures of Dick and Jane. My first manuscript, “Cindy Parker and the Haunted Mansion,” was written when I turned my third-grade spelling words into a sixteen page novella. If my mother hadn’t made me go to bed at 8:30, who knows what kind of masterpiece I could have created. When the teacher gave me an A plus, I was officially bitten by the writing bug. It’s somewhat similar to malaria. Once you’re bitten, it may go dormant for awhile, but it will never totally go away.

Although a corporate career, marriage, children, and divorce intervened, my personal anti-depressant has always been to read a mystery by one of my favorite authors, a group of writers who not only devised a puzzle for me to solve, but also kept me laughing. They could turn the gloomiest day or mood into pure sunshine. When I sat down to write my first novel, I had one goal in mind. To write an intriguing murder mystery that also provided plenty of giggles. Seems simple, right? NOT!

I discovered it wasn’t that easy to mesh the suspense of a murder investigation with those special laugh-out-loud moments. We can’t have our heroine blithely tripping over dead bodies, right and left. While the premise of mid-life dating itself can provide laughs (ah, the true stories I could share) there is still a definite fear factor involved. What if you don’t meet Mr. Right and instead meet Mr. Wrong?

It’s critical that readers identify with and root for the protagonist as she searches for the killer. She may be forced to do so to save her reputation or to stay out of jail. It definitely helps if your protagonist is relatable to her readers. In one scene in DYING FOR A DATE, Laurel McKay discovers that when faced with a gun, she didn’t want to flee, she just wanted to pee. I know I’m not the only member of the “hot flash” set who can relate to that.

There’s also the romance factor. How do you maintain conflict and tension between your protagonist and the investigating detective? Especially when he can’t decide if he should arrest the adorable soccer mom, or kiss her? We need to keep the audience engaged in the mystery but still provide those moments that sizzle and sparkle with laughter.

I would love to hear from both mystery readers and authors. Does anyone else enjoy a little slice of humor with their homicide? 

Although Cindy Sample’s initial dream was to be a mystery writer, she put aside her literary longings and applied for a job as a receptionist with a real estate office. Her career eventually led to President of a national mortgage banking company. After one too many corporate mergers, Cindy decided it was more fun to plot murder than plod through paperwork. Her experiences with on-line dating sites fueled the concept for Dying for a Date, a humorous romantic mystery set in the California gold country.

Cindy writes a column entitled Hot Flash for the Gold River Community Newspaper. She is a past president of the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime and is the co-chair of the Left Coast Crime Convention, which will be held in Sacramento in 2012. If you’re interesting in volunteering, she’d love to hear from you. Contact Cindy at www.cindysamplebooks.com