This was supposed to be my goal update post, but…

Okay I have a bit of a confession to make. Yesterday when I said my weekend was “rough”, I was in a big bad hurry, and I didn’t really think through what “rough” actually meant to people who didn’t know what I really meant. 

In reality, what’s been going on is this, and in reality, it’s freaking awesome. 
I’m in the process of starting a company importing shoes into my country, and I’m the only person in my country who’s allowed to import those shoes. This little detail kicked in last Monday, and as a result, I’ve been putting in 18 hour work days Monday to Friday. 
Which means that last week, I only wrote Saturday and Sunday. And then, although I worked all day and busted my butt doing it, I was still behind on my goal. Hence the “rough. 18 hour work days in the week plus 18 hour writing sessions over the weekend. 
Well. I’ve realized that this is just nuts. So I wrote this post about it at Untethered Realms, and thought I’d let you all know what’s going on. 
Basically, the 18 hour work days aren’t permanent, but they’re prevalent at the moment. However I’m hoping to normalize to my usual work schedule by the end of this month. Basically, I’m just pulling double time to get business plans and our business model nailed down. Once that’s done, I’m solid. 
But until then, I won’t really be blogging. I will post the guest posts I’ve scheduled, and if I have an arrangement with you for critting (I’m looking at you, Alex and any of my other existing CPs who have books that need to be critiqued), I have time for that. 
Blogging… not so much. 
I WILL be back at the end of the month, though. If only to say hi. 
But the thing is that I realized that as awesome as blogging is (and I truly do love it), this business I’m starting up will open SUCH wonderful doors that I can’t gripe about blogging/writing time. Because in the long run, it will provide me with blogging/writing time AND money. 
Thanks all for understanding! X

Michelle Dennis Evans: Friendships Anonymous

Hello, my name is Michelle Dennis Evans and I have friendship challenges…

The topic of friendship has challenged me over and over throughout my life. So what does every writer do when they are challenged by a topic? Explore it through their characters.

While writing you can rewrite a scene to get it right, but in real life we only get one go at each scene, each moment, each conversation.

I am continually checking myself on how I treat friends. I don’t call enough, I don’t email, snail mail, communicate enough. I rely too heavily on social media. When I meet someone new, do I lean in and get to know who they are under the surface? How do I celebrate the friends who are in my life now? Could I celebrate them and honour them more?

One reason I stopped phoning people was because it became too hard while my kids were little, now I find my youngest is six and can cope with me closing a door while on the phone but I’m out of the habit. I home school so going out with a friend mid week just never really happens because I have my kids with me nearly twenty-four-seven. At times I avoid going out at night because that’s my writing time. Sometimes it seems like a casual meet up at the park of surface chatter is as good as it gets.

I see a new season coming. After spending nearly fourteen years breading, growing, educating and celebrating our delightful kiddies, I’m coming to a new stage of life. I’m ready to take friendships back and invest into them like I once did. But if for some reason that season doesn’t come quick enough, I’ll continue to explore friendship through my characters.

Where are you in the friendship cycle?

Friendship is one of the main themes in my YA Contemporary Spiralling books. In Spiralling Out of Control, Stephanie moves away from her best friend but continues to lean on her for support. In book two, Spiralling Out of the Shadow, we see the parallel story of Stephanie’s best friend, Tabbie and what it was like for her to be so loyal and relied up so heavily.

Set for paperback release July 19th

For you chance to win an kindle copy of either Spiralling Out of Control or Spiralling Out of the Shadow please leave a comment.

Ebooks of Spiralling Out of Control and Spiralling Out of the Shadow available now here-

Connect with Michelle here –

Thanks for visiting, Michelle! Anyone else want to do a guest post? Please click here for more info. In particular, I please please please need someone who’d like to post on Monday,  11 August? 

Thanks! How was your weekend? Mine was a bit rough, but more on that tomorrow. 😉

Interview with M.J. Fifield

Hi all! Sorry for my very long absence! The good news is that that lucky break I’ve been hoping for seems to have come. But of course, that means that I’m putting in some long hours. (As in I’ve been putting in 18 hour days since Monday.)

But enough of that. Today, I’m welcoming MJ Fifield to my blog, so that we can talk a bit about writing, her new book and everything in between. 

Welcome to my blog, M.J. Why don’t we start off with you telling the readers more about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Misha. I see we’re starting with the tough questions…Let’s see…I live in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley where I work in retail by day and write by night. I’m a semi-avid hiker and biker. I’m starting to become more of a runner, too. (Of course, I was so much NOT a runner before that any amount of running now would make me more of a runner.) I watch too much television and eat too much junk food. I’m also addicted to buying pens, spiral-bound notebooks, and books. So many books. Oh, and swords and daggers. I do have a lot of those, too. I’m also prone to rambling, but that’s probably obvious right now, huh?

Ooh the swords and daggers sound fun, but I’m sure your notebooks interest our readers more. What do you write in them? 

I write story notes, notes about character or possible plot problem solutions—that kind of thing. Dialogue. Lots and lots of dialogue. There are a lot of full scenes, too, as just about every scene I create starts off handwritten in a notebook. I also jot down song lyrics that resonate with me and soundbites from shows that amuse me. And, of course, every notebook has a section devoted to sarcastic work-themed haiku.
Ah yes. I know from reading your blog that you’re a plotter. How do you approach planning out your drafts?

I still consider myself to be relatively new at being a plotter. I have yet to plot out a novel from start to finish, and I’m curious to see what will happen when I do. Effigy wasn’t plotted out at all ahead of time—probably what took me so long to get it to a point where I was happy with it. It wasn’t until I was in Part Two of its sequel, Second Nature, that I really started to plan things out. And because I am a visual learner, I do it on my dining room walls (I have a very understanding significant other) with a combination of index cards and post-it notes. I scribble a one sentence synopsis of each scene (index card), or each proposed scene (post-it note), and stick it on the wall. I move them around like puzzle pieces, adding and subtracting as needed, until I find the order that feels correct. Then I start writing.
Sounds sensible. What inspired you to write Effigy?

When I was probably twelve (maybe thirteen) years old, my mother bought me a trio of books she found in our local bookstore. They were the first three books in a series called The Secret of the Unicorn Queen, about an ordinary teenage girl who’s accidentally transported into a parallel universe filled with magic, swords, and women warriors riding unicorns. It was totally my thing. It still is my thing. Anyway, I loved the premise so much that, in high school, I decided to write my own story about an ordinary teenage girl who’s accidentally transported into a parallel universe filled with magic, swords, and rebels riding unicorns. Many, many moons and many, many incarnations later,Effigy was born. Thanks, mom!

Speaking of Effigy. Want to tell us a bit more about it? Where will we be able to buy it?

Effigy is the first book in the Coileáin Chronicles, a fantasy series which ultimately will tell the story of the three Coileáin sisters and the role each will play in an epic struggle between good and evil. I set out to write a more character-driven fantasy because for me and the books I like to read, character is king. So in addition to the more traditional fantasy elements—magic, sword fights, unicorns (yes, there are unicorns in my novel. Some of them even talk.), etc.—there’s also a good amount of human drama. Effigy’s main character is a young woman named Haleine. She starts off leading this very charmed and happy life, but after one of those cruel twists of which fate is so often fond, she ends up on a much darker path that really leaves her raw by the end of things. And did I mention the sarcastic pegasus?

The novel will be available in both paperback and e-book form. It can be found on Amazon beginning July 22nd, and will eventually make its way to Smashwords, iTunes, and possibly a pair of local independent bookstores in the Mount Washington Valley.
Sounds awesome. What’s your favorite part about Effigy? 

It’s finished?
Seriously, though, I’m not sure this is the right way to answer this question, but it’s true confession time: While I am immensely fond of this entire book—this labor of love over which I’ve been toiling for longer than I care to admit—there are a pair of scenes of which I am particularly proud. (Even though it is probably very uncool to admit such a thing.) They’re emotionally raw (rawer?) scenes that are, I think, an example of me pushing outside of my comfort zone (a very small and cozy, if sarcastic, place) to write them the way they needed to exist for the benefit of the story. Whenever I receive feedback from a beta reader, I usually flip to these scenes first, always hoping to see a note like, “THIS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT THING I’VE EVER READ!” but ultimately just happy when I don’t see something like “MAN, THAT WAS SUPER LAME!” scribbled in the margins.
But, also, I am legitimately thrilled that this book is finally finished. It’s been a long time coming, after all.
Yeah I know exactly what you mean. There are some places that simply come from a deeper place in our hearts. 

Last question: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received? 

Well, it probably isn’t the most traditional writing advice ever, but there was an English poet named Philip Sidney who lived from 1554 to 1586. I came across him in high school, and one of his sonnets ended with the line “Fool,” my Muse said to me, “look in thy heart and write.”
And that really resonated with me and has stuck with me ever since. It just seems like a good writing philosophy to have.
As is “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!” from the late 90’s movie Galaxy Quest. 
I apparently never do anything traditionally.
Hahaha awesome advice. Loved having you over, M.J. 

You can find M.J. here: 

Buy Effigy on Amazon

So ladies and gents, how did you get inspired to write what you’re working on at the moment? And how are you doing? Who else thinks the Effigy cover is beautiful? 

Tyrean Martinson on Reading and Writing

Reading and writing walk hand in hand in every storyteller’s imagination. The art of story and the heart of story dwell within each of us; I think the love of “story” draws all of humanity together. A story lifts us out of our everyday existence or adds meaning and depth to our lives. As I write this, my brother-in-law who is unable to move from the neck down (MS) and my dad who has dealt with lifelong disabilities are swapping stories in the other room – stories of plane flights, fast cars, farm work, and animal antics. We all love to hear stories and tell stories. Reading and writing flow from that mutual love of story.

I grew up surrounded by stories. My grandmother told stories when I spent the night at her house. My mom read to me every night. My dad tells stories in every conversation. My first favorite books and movies expanded my horizons. I became an avid reader and started daydreaming alternative endings or further adventures for my favorite books. From there, writing became a way of getting those ideas and my own, new stories on the page so I could keep them close or share them.

As a writer and a reader, I find myself enjoying books more than once. I love to read. I love to write. Books hold countless treasures for me as a reader and as a writer. I love to study the way that a writer has structured their book in plot, pacing, character, and setting. It helps my writing to grow. Sometimes, I go back and take notes on a book, studying the structure and characterization. As Stephen King famously stated in his book On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Now, I know that some writers find King’s quote to be a stressful “command” statement that requires us to read massive amounts of books each year. I don’t think that’s what King meant. Even as a voracious reader, I try to slow down in my reading to let the words breathe, to study the structure and characterization, and to uncover the nuances of the words. I get more out of books that I re-read multiple times because I’m less concerned with “what happens next” and I’m reading for the enjoyment of each part of the story.

How do you read? Do you think it’s necessary to the act of writing or just a natural part of it? Are there other ways to be surrounded by the world of “story” that work just as well like verbal storytelling, listening to music, or watching movies?

And here’s one last quote:

“We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.” Cassandra Clare


Tyrean Martinson lives and writes near the waters of the Puget Sound (Washington State, USA) and daydreams daily. Currently, she is hard at work on a writing curriculum book and the last book in The Champion Trilogy. Her blog is:

Thanks all for stopping by! I’m still accepting guest posts, so if you want to see how to sign up, please click here

Sigh. Just once in this damned year, I’d like to catch a break. Just once.

Just. Freaking. Once.

Ahem. Sorry peeps. This is again me saying that my blogging will be sporadic. I will keep track of guest posts so they go live at the right time. But I have to prioritize my writing, and with all the shit going on, my writing is slowing to more and more of a crawl.

I will try to visit you guys, though.

In the mean time, please keep praying.

Crystal Collier on What Makes a Cover Awesome

What is it that makes an epic book cover? What is it that reaches out and GRABS you so hard you HAVE to HAVE that book, even if it’s total rubbish?

For me it boils down to four elements:

1. Title
2. The overall art
3. Intrigue/mystery
4. The human touch

TITLE: In YA, one word titles are especially potent, but I’ve read that titles should be no longer than 4 words, or you start losing readers. If the title is set on fire by the background images, you’ve got gold.

THE ART: A professionally designed cover says, “I’ve got class, and what’s inside was professionally edited and has class too.” I think we can’t measure how powerfully this is believed on a subconscious level. I’ve heard it said (and I believe it,) that the cover should communicate the genre or mood by way of color scheme, and the images on the cover should help us interpret the age group the book is intended for.

INTRIGUE: Does the cover make me think, “Ooh, I wonder what that sword has to do with the title…” The individual elements should plant curiosity in the readers mind.

THE HUMAN TOUCH: It’s proven that people are drawn to images of people. (Imagine that.) I’m no exception and it’s my personal opinion that portraying some kind of human element–a hand, a face, a body–adds a level of connection with readers.

You can get into all kinds of other elements like motion, topography, focal point, and a dozen others, but I think the key is just to get someone interested enough to crack open the book. You can NEVER undo a first impression, so it has to count.

How about you? What aspects of a cover really draw you to a book? 

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter

Her second novel, SOULLESS (book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy), hits the worldOctober 13, 2014!  

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.

And risk losing everything.

What people are saying about this series: 
“With a completely unique plot that keeps you guessing and interested, it brings you close to the characters, sympathizing with them and understanding their trials and tribulations.” –SC, Amazon reviewer

“It’s clean, classy and supernaturally packed with suspense, longing, intrigue and magic.” –Jill Jennings, TX

“SWOON.” –Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

PREORDER your print copy
Sign up for Crystal Collier’s newsletter to receive release news and freebies.

Thanks for stopping by, Crystal! Anyone else want to do a guest post? Click here for more info. 

Where I am and a short update

So… uh… I didn’t know until last night that I’m supposed to be manning the stations for Unicorn Bell this week.

Because I’m pretty much stuck in my writer cave, I thought I’d use the opportunity to share tips that help me get through writing marathons like NaNo and Camp NaNo.

Today’s topic: Multitasking.

You read that right, and no, it’s not wrong.

A short update on my progress: I’ve written 21k words and am now about 500 words away from being two days ahead. The real bragging point here: 12k of those words are written by hand.

How’s your Camp NaNo going?

Ellie Garratt on Spec Fic Mash-ups

Hey all! I was supposed to do this update on Friday, but see, I was writing. So I just want to let you know that yes, I have managed to work through my issues. At least enough so that I’m still on course to complete my Camp NaNo goal.

Also, I hope all my American friends had a wonderful 4th of July. 

Anyway, today I’m welcoming spec fic writer extraordinaire and Untethered Realms co-writer, Ellie Garratt. She’s here to share her love of mash-ups with us.

Thank you for having me here today, Misha. I’m **waving** hello to you and all your followers.

Time for a confession. I have a weakness for literary mash-ups, where normally polar opposite genres are mixed together. There’s something refreshing about taking an old classic such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and adding zombies into the mix. I’m not sure how Austen would have felt about her novel being re-written in such a way, but I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

There are more mash-ups – Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility, and Jane Slayre are just a few examples. Then there are mash-ups involving characters from books, such as Mr. Darcy,Vampyre.

Another style of literary mash up is taking a famous historical figure and giving them an alternative speculative fiction story. One of the most well known examples of this is Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. A genius idea of re-writing the history of the iconic President Lincoln to include vampires. Or how about Henry VIII: Wolfman or Queen Victoria Demon Hunter? I wonder if their Majesties would have been amused?

Then there are mash-ups which involve an iconic film or television series such as Star Trek. Night of the Living Trekkies is a favourite of mine. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is – a gory and funny mixing of the Trek Universe and zombies. It’s also a great read, though I should warn you quite a few Star Wars fans meet with a grisly fate.

There are many more I haven’t read, such as The Undead World of Oz or Wuthering Bites. The number of literary mash-ups has grown significantly since the publication of the first, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There are many to choose from, should they appeal to you.

Have you read any mash-ups? How do you feel about them, especially those re-working a classic book or character? Have you ever considered writing one yourself? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Author Bio

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Her first short story collection, Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre, was published in March 2013 and contains nine previously published stories. Her second, Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories, followed shortly after.
 You can find Ellie here: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads.

Thanks for visiting, Ellie! Anyone else want to do a guest post? Please see here for more details. 

Who else adores reading and/or writing mash-ups?