Susan Sets up Shop in Littsburgh!

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West of Mars logoWhat’s this Littsburgh stuff? You all thought I was West of Mars!

Well, I am BOTH. Littsburgh is the literary hub for us publishing folk in the city of Pittsburgh and maybe you missed it, but West of Mars definitely refers to the only city or town of Mars in the United States. The question I usually won’t answer is how far west of Mars I am, but that’s because I hate it when people show up on my doorstep. Of course, showing up on my back deck is even worse, so don’t do that, either. And before you go, “A-ha! I’ll use the garage,” know that’s where the boy’s bows are stored. Just sayin’.

So because I’m both West of Mars and a proud part of the Littsburgh community, Nick and Rachel and Katie were more than glad to feature me with a quick four-question interview about my story, “Undaunted,” in the Running Wild Anthology of Stories.

I know I’ve done other interviews and stuff about it already, but somehow, seeing myself up on Littsburgh, being an active part of the writerly community… it’s darn cool.

Check it out. If you haven’t picked up a copy for yourself, what are you waiting for?

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Featured New Short Story: Life After Breath by Tori M Eldridge

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Featured New Book SpotlightLet’s welcome Tori M Eldridge to West of Mars!

Tori isn’t just another contributor to the anthology that my short story, Undaunted, is in. Nope. She’s the lead named author, which means that she’s got some serious literary clout. Just that reason alone should be enough for you to pick up a copy of the anthology and start reading, but in case it’s not, let’s ask her what song makes her think of her story.

“Hurt” by Christina Aguilera: The anguish conveyed through this evocative melody, poignant lyrics, and–of course–Ms. Aguilera’s astounding voice resonates with the grief and despair that drives my character into the ocean when a fast-moving fog swallows the coast. “Hurt” strikes that painful chord of longing, guilt, and a struggle to find a reason to live.

Now, you may not know this, but Christina grew up near West of Mars. She’s a graduate of the school my kids go to. So this connection may or may not count for Pittsburgh Geography, that game where it all links back to Da Burgh, but… maybe it does. I vote yes, anyway.

So what’s the story about? In case Tori’s explanation above wasn’t enough for you, here’s more:

“Life After Breath” is a poignant underwater ghost story about grief and redemption, set along the foggy Malibu coast.

Grab your copy! Not all the stories have to deal with death and grief, I promise.
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Remember, too, to leave a review once you’re done. It’s the best way to say thanks to an author for putting in the time to compose a literary gem (or turd, but let’s face it: in this anthology, they’re all gems), and then to have the courage to submit it. That’s some scary stuff, folks, submitting a story!

Be sure, as well, to connect with Tori:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest

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Reviewers Wanted!

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Like short stories?

Sure ya do.

Especially since one of them was written by me, and you know you want to read what I’ve come up with now. I’ve heard feedback that it’s VERY different from my older stuff. More polished. Less angry. And it certainly felt different as I wrote it!

So. I am willing to hand over digital copies of the anthology to anyone who’d like one — with the caveat that you leave a review at whichever book review site you like. Amazon, Goodreads, B&N… I don’t really care. I just want to see the reviews happening, so that others can read the work of 20 damn good writers. Or 19 damn good writers and me. Whichever. You can decide and mention it in your review.

If you’d like a review copy, let me know. But remember: I expect a review! Maybe not a day after I hand the copy over, but within a reasonable period of time.

Reviews sell books. They expose books to new readers who otherwise wouldn’t hear of a book. They HELP. They are the best way to say thanks for taking the time to write, hone, revise, craft the tale in your hands.

Be polite. Write reviews.

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Says the Editor: Build Your Writer’s Group

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A good writer’s group can be really hard to find. I say that having been a member of many that weren’t great. There was the guy who took my manuscript one week when it was up for critique and, instead of being helpful, wrote lovelorn poetry to a girl he’d known in college who had shunned him. (I can’t say that I blamed her, but not because the poetry was bad.) Or the man who told me that I was marketing a different work to the wrong audience and should target it toward teenagers.

It was a Young Adult project, and it actually eventually landed me an agent.

So, yeah. I get it. Finding the right critique group or partners can be really hard.

But making the effor to build your own personal writer’s group is so, so worth it. When you have a group of motivated, like-minded people — and by like-minded, I don’t mean you’re all writing in the same genre or category. I mean you’re all interested in learnning as much as you can about craft and how to improve your own writing — you learn more. The group lifts each other and themselves, all at the same time. Maybe one has a great eye for detail and can help the others learn which details in a scene are important or vital, and which aren’t. Maybe one understands pace and tension.

Most groups, though, don’t operate on such a specific basis. They are simply groups of writers who seek the same goal: to improve. And maybe they don’t have the experience or language or desire to talk in technical terms. That’s okay, too, so long as they can say, “I don’t know what you’re referring to here,” or “I don’t believe this character would do this. Back in chapter 3, she did the opposite.”

Anything that makes you think, stretch, grow as a writer is a bonus. Yes, even the guy who talked about the audience for my then-project was helpful because at times, he could identify when the characters would act too adult. (The rest of the time, we’d hand him our cards for free cookies at the local grocery and let him make multiple visits to get multiple cookies because, hey, it was one cookie per visit, and one visit ended when you set foot outside the store.)

These days, it’s both easier and harder to find good groups — easier because there are so many. Start with your local library. Most have writer’s groups, and many have multiple groups, often with differnet areas of interest, but sometimes, they only have different instructors. The library can also help you find amazing writer’s groups. Some, like Romance Writers of America, are national, with local chapters. Some, like Sisters in Crime, are for both writers and readers, which is a good reminder that readers can be part of your own writer’s group. You don’t have to confine yourself only to writers.

And then there are smaller, regional groups. I continue to love and recommend Pennwriters to my clients; their resources are deep and their conferences top-notch. Best of all, when the conference is in Pittsburgh (which happens in odd-numbered years), you might get to hang out in the hospitality room with your favorite editor. Pennwriters isn’t just a local group anymore, by the way. We have members from across the nation.

Groups abound on Facebook. They gather among hashtags on other social media. They form in bookstores.

Get out. Get networking. A writer’s group can be as small as two people who exchange manuscripts and read and critique. They can be as large as the members can manage, with some offering vocal support, others offering critiques, and still others helping market when you have a publication.

There’s no one-size-fits-all, so get out there. Network. Build your writer’s group, and use that group to learn your craft. Let them help you take your manuscript as far as you can; learn as much as you can. Lean on your network to help you learn and develop as a writer.

No, a writer’s group can’t take the place of a really good freelance editor like me. (Even the groups I’m part of don’t get the full benefit of my abilities, much as they try to pry it out of me.) But what a writer’s group WILL do is help you maximize the investment you make into your editor.

After all, why are you paying me to teach you how to punctuate grammar when you can learn that for free? Wouldn’t you rather have your money and my time be spent on the bigger, deeper issues that will lift your manuscript from good to something more?

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Featured New Story: Justice by Julie Doherty

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Featured New Book Spotlight

Let’s all welcome Julie Doherty to West of Mars!

I met Julie via the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2, and she’s pretty awesome. And her story? LOVED it. Voice, detail… this is the kind of fiction I adore and, oddly, have been reading a lot of lately.

So let’s get to it. Julie, what song makes you think of “Justice”

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Part of the lyrics go “I am unwritten, can’t read my mind,
I’m undefined. I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, Ending unplanned.”

Readers have called my novels “romance with teeth,” so I’m no stranger to dark, edgy writing. However, producing “Justice” for this anthology gave me a chance to skip past the smooches and straight into disturbing. What a rewarding challenge!

I love that! “Skip past the smoochees and straight into disturbing.”

Pick up your copy of the anthology — and be sure to leave a review! Reviews help other readers find great new reads.
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And connect with Julie, too.
SITE
FACEBOOK
GOODREADS
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
TWITTER
BOOK TRAILER #1
BOOK TRAILER #2

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Says the Editor: She Noticed

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Didja notice?

Yes, noticing things is the topic for the day. I find I’ve been making a lot of comments to my clients of late, asking them why someone notices something right then. What happens to trigger the character’s attention?

I get it: authors often use she noticed as a way of drawing the reader’s attention to something.

But she noticed is telling. It’s reporting what the character does, instead of letting us share her discovery. It could work, when used sparingly — and with reason.

She looked the gorgeous attorney over, head to foot, and noticed a stripe of fur across his shins, about two feet up. Small dog, or a cat? The difference would either increase or decrease his desirability in her eyes. That was a given.

So here, she’s looking him over. There’s your precipitating action, the prompt for her to notice.

Contrast that with

She was thinking about how hot he was, hotter than the coffee she’d bought that morning at Starbucks. She took a drink of her coffee, feeling the flavor spread across her tongue in that way only a good latte could, and was glad she’d taken the few minutes to stop in before the meeting. She noticed that a bird had pooped on the office window.

Umm… huh? Where’s the connection? What prompts her to shift from the hot guy and her coffee, and over to the bird poop? (Because this entirely made up story is going to turn into something akin to Hitchcock’s classic, the poop turns out to be important later on. Just so you know that — because many times, what I’m seeing with these odd, unprovoked instances of noticing, is that they are vital to the story somehow.)

Hey, did you skip over that parenthetical? There’s important stuff in there. The jist of my explanation, in fact: These odd, unprovoked instances of noticing are almost always vital details.

Remember: writing is a craft. Go and let your characters notice things all over the page in the first draft. Absolutely.

But when you revise, make a mental note to revisit all the times you use the word notice and make sure that what’s noticed is an action that’s prompted.

And, as always, holler if you need help.

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Lines of Distinction: Playing the Pauses by Michelle Hazen

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WOOT! New Michelle Hazen!

How do you not love her writing? I am such a fan of her lyrical prose, I can’t tell you.

If you haven’t checked out her books yet, what’s keeping you?

 

 

Here’s the latest:

Hot. Hawt. And more than a little yummy.

Pick up a copy!

Amazon: https://goo.gl/zisbeL
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/JToFvr
Kobo: https://goo.gl/qdo3vs
ITunes: https://goo.gl/BSvTLpGoodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37309060

 

 

Connect with Michelle, too!

Website: http://michellehazenbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/michellehazen
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleHazenAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michellehazenauthor/
Newsletter sign up: http://michellehazenbooks.com/newsletter/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6559289.Michelle_Hazen
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/michellehazenbo/
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/michelle-hazen
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Featured New Short Story Spotlight: Idylls of the King by Amelia Kibbie

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Featured New Book SpotlightIt’s time to welcome my anthology-mate Amelia Kibbie to West of Mars!

Her story is directly after mine, so if you sat down to ONLY read mine (bless your heart for being such a dedicated Susan fan), well, just keep turning the pages. I did. I mean, how could I speak with any authority if I didn’t?

So her story is called Idylls of the King, and I’ll let you read it to find out what that means. But first, here’s Amelia with the song that makes her think of her story.

Richard Robbins’ soundtrack to the movie A Room with a View comes to mind. I don’t think about this story in terms of lyrics to a song, which is odd for me because I could usually name you a whole soundtrack. It’s sappy, but probably “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion would fit as well. When you find the right person to love you and support you, it does lift you up to reach the things you couldn’t reach before, and I think my characters realize that by the end of the story.

Sappy is fine! And I like that the story transcends lyrics; I’m so much more literal than that, so it’s neat to meet someone who is my polar opposite. I hope Amelia brings us more of her perspective in the future.

Ready for more about the story? Here you go:

“Idylls of the King” is a short story included in the Running Wild Anthology of Stories Volume 2, and tells the tale of two young teens and their classmates who are evacuated from London to escape the bombings in WWII through Operation Pied Piper. The schoolchildren move into Willowind House, the country estate of the elderly but formidable Baroness, Lady Barlow. The Baroness takes an interest in the class misfits, James and Arthur, and uses the myths and legends of King Arthur and his knights to teach the boys the courage to not only stand up to their bullies, but to dare to find their first love in each other.

Grab your own copy of this fun and incredible (if I may say so) anthology. Lots of great stuff to discover in here.
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Connect with Amelia:
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website
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Today’s the Day! #NewBookRelease

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How can you not love this cover for the Running Wild Anthology of Stories?

Today’s the day!

The Running Wild Anthology of Stories (Volume 2) releases to the world today, and of course I think you ought to pick up a copy. I mean, we all know I like to release new fiction on my birthday and so what if we’re a month early? Your reading my creation is the best gift you can give me.

Here are the buy links:
Amazon
B&N
Rakuten/Kobo
iTunes

And remember: leaving reviews is the best way to show appreciation for an author’s work. And yes, negative reviews, when thoughtful and considered, are beneficial.

I do have digital copies if you PROMISE to leave a review anywhere online, including GoodReads.

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Featured New Short Story: Undaunted by Susan Helene Gottfried

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Featured New Book Spotlight

It’s my turn to step into the spotlight! Do you know stoked I am to do this?

Here’s the story, if you missed it a few weeks ago: One of my son’s friends told me about a prompt on their English final. One word: Puddles.

And after years of not writing a heck of a lot, just like that, I started writing again.

I still don’t know what motivated me, but something did. Maybe I was possessed, maybe I just loved this story and had that much faith in it.

But… I submitted it, it was accepted, and now, today, I’m here to tell you about the song that makes me think of my story, Undaunted.

This is embarrassing as hell, because I’ve come to realize this is actually a horrible song, but here it is anyway: It Can’t Rain All the Time, from the Crow Soundtrack, performed by Jane Siberry. The link will take you to a fan-made tribute video, and I think it does the song and movie justice. But… yeah. It’s not the sort of thing I listen to… ever. But there’s a longing in it, a sense of what true love must be like, and even a promise — and those elements are what I tried to key into when creating Carrie and this story of her loss of her husband, Dante. And, of course, the rain is a theme in both song and story — in Undaunted, though, it’s more an element of the safe harbor of love, and in the end, it’s all about redemption and freedom.

The description isn’t much, as it shouldn’t be in an anthology such as this, but here it is:

Over twenty stories that will make your heart race, make you joyful, fearful, thrilled, inspired, and horrified.
These are stories that will make your imagination run wild featuring Gemma L. Brook, Lorna Walsh, Jasmine Wade,
Laura Nelson Selinsky, Carol Dowd-Forte, Tone Milazzo, Julie Doherty, Tori Eldridge, Ken MacGregor, Nick Mazzuca, Andrew Adams, Susan Helene Gottfried, Amelia Kibbie, Lexis Parker, Rebecca House, Elan Barnehama, Gary Zenker, Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni, Joe Nasta, Cindy Cavett

Need some buy links? It’s still a pre-order for three more days. But go and pre-order. Don’t wait, to make sure you don’t forget!
Amazon
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iTunes

And… you don’t really need my connect links… they’re all over this here site.

Just remember that if you pick up a copy (and you should!), my fellow authors and I would LOVE a review.

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It’s That Time Again!

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Trevor’s Song Trevor’s Song as part of Read an Ebook Week again this year.

Can’t wait for the Running Wild Anthology of Stories to come out with my newest creation, Undaunted, in it?

Me. Either.

But there’s a nice way to tide you over for the next not-quite-ten days. It’s Read an ebook Week over at Smashwords, my favorite of the ebook retailers. (They pay the best royalties out there, if you’re wondering why they are my favorites. And they do NOT play the games that certain big retailers do. Ahem.)

So between now (well, it started on Sunday the 4th but man, have I been busy, between an unusually busy March and the launch of the Running Wild Anthology of Stories) and March 10, ALL of my previous books and stories will be FREE over at Smashwords. If you want to get some short story reading in between now and the release of Undaunted, I recommend Broken or any of the Demo Tapes anthologies.

(If you’re looking for Mannequin, one of my favorite stories, it’s over at Wattpad now, along with a never-before story from the Trevolution.)

So… have at it. Happy reading. Discover something new while you’re at it.

And don’t forget: reviews help sell books, so leave 2c worth of thoughts about what you liked and didn’t like. Yes, even one-star reviews are valuable, so don’t be afraid to say you didn’t like something.)

And pre-order Undaunted and the rest of the anthology, why don’t you?
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Featured New Story Spotlight: All God’s Creatures Got Reasons by Frank Oreto

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Featured New Book SpotlightLet’s welcome Frank Oreto to West of Mars this week!

Frank’s got a few things that make him pretty cool: he’s local to me, part of a writer’s group I belong to and will one day make an in-person appearance to, AND he’s got a short story to tell you about. I know we’ve got some other short stories featured in the spotlight in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned and expand your literary buying habits now!

So Frank’s got a short story called All God’s Creatures Got Reasons, and it’s in the Hinnom Magazine, #5. I’ve never heard of this magazine, so you KNOW it’s time to investigate and learn about it.

But first… Frank, what song makes you think of your story?

“Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got Love in My Tummy” for the most horrible reasons imaginable.

Oh.

My.

I’m… scared now. Which I suppose I ought to be, given that this is a group who’s pretty hard-core Science Fiction, Fantasy, and horror. I mean, this is the source of that way-cool pizza-themed call for submissions I posted a few months back.

(Know what’s worse? When I dug up the song on YouTube, I recognized it! I am NOT that old. I mean, really. I am not. I just know weird shit.)

So. Back to Frank and his story because to be honest, I need to get myself a copy of this. I mean, don’t you? Between the title and the song, how can you resist?

But if you’re still on the fence, here’s how Frank describes the story:

We’re all heroes in our own story. But what happens when what you do, the act that gives you purpose, makes you the worst person in the world? Find out in “All God’s Creatures Got Reasons.” Featured in Hinnom Magazine #5. Available now.

Yeah, it’s hard to summarize a short story, but now I’m even MORE intrigued. Who gets eaten? Who’s the hero? What’s this about God’s creatures and reasons?

Seriously.

Let’s ALL get a copy. It’s an Amazon-only thing, I think, but if you’re more Amazon-averse than I am, let me know if you find other retailers and I’ll update.

And connect with Frank!
Twitter
Facebook

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Cover Reveal and Anthology Announcement: Running Wild Anthology Volume 2

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I am beyond proud to introduce you to the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2!

Know why?

I have a short story in it.

But not just any short story. Undaunted, it’s called, and it’s one of those pieces of writing that just pours out of you from places unknown, almost entirely whole and coherent, and requires very little revision and a light touch by an editor to tighten up a few phrases.

It’s not just any short story. It’s the first new fiction I’ve been willing to show the world. It’s the first short story I have submitted for publication in years.

So, yeah. I’m batting 1000% on submissions over the past year or five. Time will tell if I can keep it up, but for now, I’m grateful to the team behind the Running Wild Anthology — yes, you guessed it: it’s the cool people at Running Wild Press. This is an emerging publisher worth keeping an eye on, folks!

It’s up for preorder, so get yours now!
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Call for Submissions! Hot Metal Press

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The Ghost of the Dresser An anthology I have a story in, of course!

I’ve posted about the Hot Metal Press before. I’m partial to them because they are local to me, and to be honest, if I get the time to polish something up, you just may have some friendly competition for a spot in this awesome literary magazine. (And yes, despite my roots at Pitt, I am eligible to submit, as the Hot Metal Press did not, to the best of my knowledge, exist back when I was there. You know. In the Pleistocene Epoch. Which means I couldn’t have been on the staff.)

So what are they looking for? Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Visual Art.

They are NOT a paying market. But their byline looks cool, and one can never have too many publications on one’s longtail of publishing accomplishments.

They also have very defined tastes… sort of:

We want to read fiction that turns out heads to show us a new perspective. Be it through formal invention, depth of insight, or strength of narrative, the fiction that grips us does so by revealing a little sliver of some idiosyncratic, particular human life. But we don’t want to get too specific here: we want your best story—your ire, your lore, your comic relief—whatever form it may take.

Keep it under 6k words, and good luck!!

As always, if you submit, let me know. And if you submit and are accepted, definitely let me know so I can brag about it and help spread the word and hopefully get more eyeballs on your work. (And remember, submissions for the Featured New Book and/or Lines of Distinction ARE welcome if you’ve published a short story.)

Go for it! Here’s the link you need, to Submittable.

Good luck!

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Says the Editor: What Year Did That Enter Our Speech?

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So I’m reading this book. It’s too early to say if it’s a good book, but the author is well celebrated, and I’ve followed her on social media for years. She’s had a hell of a career, the sort that anyone would be envious of and strive to emulate, even when writing in other genres and categories.

But… the second chapter is set in 1999. As in the year 1999. And something I encountered stopped me cold.

I laughed because why not.

What’s wrong with that, you ask. People talk that way all the time.

Except… in 1999, they most certainly did NOT. That construction is much, much newer than 1999. I’d say it’s newer than 2009, even. I’d cautiously put money down on the year 2012. Somewhere in there.

Regardless, pulling your reader out of your story isn’t exactly what you want to be doing if you’re the writer. And you really don’t want them jerking out for something so… small.

I know… most people won’t catch this. Even more won’t think it’s a big deal. You may be among those.

A lot of readers don’t care that certain historical fiction authors aren’t even close to the facts. That doesn’t mean authors can willy-nilly abandon their obligation and the readers’ expectation that their historical fiction is accurate and authentic.

But there are readers who do care. About phrases that were and weren’t used at the end of the Twentieth Century. About the accuracy of historical novels. About authenticity and the trust they put into an author to present the world as it was in whatever year they’re writing about, be it 1999 or 1899.

So who do you cater to? How do you choose?

Well, you do your best. You make sure you’re working with a team who will catch these small things. If you can’t be sure your editor will, do your best to find beta readers who will.

All you can ever do is your best. Sometimes, it’ll bite you. Sometimes, it’ll save you.

Do your best. And yes, stop and think about how people used to talk. You’ll be surprised to see what’s entered our language over the past few years alone.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Atlantis by Carol Roberts

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Featured New Book Spotlight Let’s welcome Carol Roberts to West of Mars!

You guys are really writing cool stuff (and listening to music I’d never discover on my own) and you knock my socks off. I am continually impressed with what comes out of your imaginations.

So, Carol, what song makes you think of your book?

‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley. Why: Because when the song came out, I thought, yes, I have been listening to echos of emotions for a long time; I am about to go crazy, but I am still going to write about what I have been hearing. I was definitely out of touch with reality when I wrote ‘Atlantis’, caught up interpreting my condition, and at the same time trying to understand the underlying meaning of mythical literature. What could be important enough to survive the ages as myth? Does it want to tell us something about ourselves, our destiny, the challenges evolution has thrown at us, our choices? ‘Crazy’ helped me to forget about what people might think, and put into writing what I ‘knew too much of’.

Okay, anyone else absolutely fascinated by that answer? WOW.

Here’s what the book is about:

When Alanthea, high-priestess of Atlantis, connects to a woman in her dreams, she becomes haunted by a mystery. Compelled to trace the other woman’s life she finds coded poems that hold clues to the predicament of her people. Now she has to venture ever farther into forbidden territory to link past and present, and understand the real danger threatening Atlantis.

Arakon always thought of himself as an orphan, a loner without any real belonging. But after a strange encounter his life changes, and he is drawn into events beyond his control.

They move parallel in their search for answers until their destinies converge, and the weave unravels. Yet what they finally uncover lies deep at the heart of collective evolution, and what has been set in motion cannot be undone.

I’m fascinated. Are you? There’s so much potential here… I can’t wait to dive in to a copy and see if it lives up to what I’m seeing.

Pick up your own copy! It’s only at Amazon for now, but maybe that will change so you non-Amazon people can have a read, too.

And be sure to connect with Carol, as well. We’ve spoken only a little, but she seems way cool. I’d like to get to know her better. Join me!
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Book trailer

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Author Promo Opp with Louise Wise

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West of Mars logoA fun graphic to start us off!

Because let’s face it: there’s nothing fun about trying to promote your book. With my upcoming anthology release (more on that later), I’m in the same boat: you’ve got to reach people, tell them about your project, encourage them to buy it. It’s thankless work, and it’s hard, not to mention time-consuming.

And because I like to take care of my friends and clients, it’s worth it to me to take the time to pass along word of bloggers who are open to promotional events at their own site.

Like this one. Louise Wise, owner of Wise Words Book Blogger, has openings and opportunities that she’d LOVE to see be filled up. (Sort of how I feel about the Featured New Book Spotlight!) Unlike me, though, she doesn’t have one static question. She’s got a bunch, and they change according to the month you’d like to be featured. Stop in and check out what she’s looking for.

Yes, it’ll take you some time and effort to write a post on these topics. From a blogger’s point of view, I get it: we want fresh content, not recycled stuff. From a reader’s point of view, I get it: we want fresh content, not recycled stuff (and yes, I am thinking of the one best-selling author who wrote three guest posts for one of her books and then flooded the blogosphere with those three. By the time she was done, when I saw her name, I groaned. NOT a way to get someone to buy your book!). But as an author, I also get it because time spent writing yet another unique guest post means time away from fresh material.

Still, I think it’s worth it. You never know how or when you’ll find a new fan, and if you make the right kind of fan — the one who’ll follow you around the Internet and be a magnifier for your appearances without crossing that line into creepy — they are worth ten times their weight in gold. Those are the sorts of fans who’ll sell a hundred copies of your book for you, and they are the kind we all dream about. Admit it.

So… check out what Louise is offering to all of us and if you’ve got the ability to make the time, go for it. I’m certainly going to try — after all, anthologies are HARD to sell.

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Featured New Book: Blood Bond by Susan Leigh Noble

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Featured New Book Spotlight

Let’s welcome back Susan Leigh Noble to West of Mars! If you’re paying attention around here, you’ll notice that Susan also features authors on her blog, so it’s nice to be able to pay the kindness back. Or forward. Or whatever.

The end result is that she’s here today to tell us about her new book, Blood Bond. Ready? Susan, what song makes you think of your book?

I would like to thank Susan for allowing me to spotlight my new release Blood Bond. I found picking a song that represents my fantasy novel to be a challenge. I finally chose Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash.

I felt this song’s title is exactly the question running through my main character’s mind. Soren is reluctant to help Dex, the dragon, who wants him to help reunite man and dragon for an upcoming battle. The line “If I go, there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double” is particularly true to the story. After Dex’s blood mixes with Soren’s during a battle, the two become linked. If Soren decides to leave it will cause both of them pain but if he decides to stay and help not only will the bond get stronger, but he will be putting himself in harm’s way.

Intrigued? I am. The basic premise of staying or going… that’s one we all face, more often than most of us would like to admit.

Here’s the book’s description:

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon that saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

Whoa, huh?

Pick up your copy. It’s Amazon-only, but Susan said, “right now,” so maybe there’s hope for those of you who choose to use other book retailers than Amazon?

And connect with Susan! Remember to check out her blog for other authors you may know… and those you may not.
Link to my blog
Link to Facebook

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Call for Submissions: Delmarva Review

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The Lucky Charms anthology was filled by a call for submissions from the members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Honestly, I don’t go looking for places that are seeking submissions. They are easy enough to find via Submittable, and that’s a site well worth having an account with. I find all sorts of cool stuff listed there.

But I rarely tell you about them. Rather, I bring to you the calls for submission that I hear my friends and colleagues actively talking about. There’s buzz in my community, and I’m glad to make something buzz a little bit harder and help bring parts of my community together.

Today’s call for submissions, to Delmarva Review, crossed my radar in such a way. And since cool people I know in some form or another (in this case, I believe it was a local writer’s group) are talking about this, it was worth bringing to a wider pool of potential submissions. Because you all LOVE increased competition!

So. Delmarva — that’s a geographical area and while your fiction or poetry doesn’t have to reflect the area, it’s still good to know something about your potential audience. I’ll let you research that and just tell you that they’re looking for fiction of length up to 5k words or flash up to 1k. You may submit two flash pieces, each under that word count.

They don’t pay cash, if that’s your aim. It’s a literary magazine that pays the standard two copies, so this one’s great for exposure and an ever-lengthening list of publications. Don’t discount the value of that list! If you work in short fiction at all, you know how valuable it is.

The deadline is March 31, with publication in October. They hope to get back to everyone by May.

I’ll let you read more about it, like what sort of fiction they’re looking for — and what they’re not.

If you’ve got a piece (or two, if you write flash), go for it! If not, what’s stopping you from creating something? The best part of fiction is that if it doesn’t fit here, it may fit somewhere else.

As always, if you want eyes on it before you submit, drop me a line and I’m glad to help you bring it up to snuff. And as always, if you do submit, let us know. And if you are selected, definitely let us know — not only do we want to cheer you on, we’d love to host you for a Featured New Book Spotlight!

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Says the Editor: Tom Swiftly

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I love that you guys are reading my posts and interacting with me and with them. This one, about dialogue tags, in particular has raised a number of questions and responses.

We’ve already talked about asks versus said.

But, another author asked, what about the Tom Swiftlies? Or maybe she spelled it Tom Swiftlys, which I suppose is actually more accurate, if we pretend that SWIFTLY is Tom’s last name.

At any rate, she’s got a point. When we’re talking dialogue tags and the power of the verb we use — ask, said, demanded, emoted, swore — we should also talk about those pesky little adverbs. You know: He said softly. He yelled loudly. He swore aggressively. He stated belligerently.

Notice how these are all TELLING words. They tell us how the speaker did his verb (said, yelled, swore, stated). But do they show?

Go back to the time-worn canon: show, don’t tell. Now, we all know that by and large, this is a truth of fiction. Show, don’t tell.

But we also know there are times when it’s okay, or even better, to tell, don’t show.

How do you know which is the right thing to do when writing dialogue?

For me, this one’s fairly easy, but it involves a lot of trust in your reader (which is where I think a lot of this breakdown occurs. That, or bad sixth grade teachers who thought adverbs with dialogue were all that and more). Can the reader figure out how something is conveyed if you remove the adverb? Yelling is a loud thing. You can’t yell quietly. (Admit it: you tried.) You can be forceful and strong but quiet, but you can’t yell. Even Webster’s agrees:

Definition of yell
intransitive verb
1 : to utter a loud cry, scream, or shout
2 : to give a cheer usually in unison
transitive verb
: to utter or declare with or as if with a yell : shout

Look at that top definition: to utter a loud cry, scream, or shout — see it? By definition, a yell is loud. There’s no need to tell us!

Sometimes, it’s not that cut and dry. You can state things calmly, quietly, belligerently, aggressively… the list goes on. So how do you still convey your meaning yet remove the adverb?

Two ways, and they don’t have to be exclusive of each other. The first is via word choice. Someone being aggressive is going to use a different set of words than someone who is being calm, or even someone being diplomatic. An aggressive lover versus a persuasive lover — “Come here.” versus “If you come over here, I’ll make it worth your while.”

The second way can be a little more challenging, and that’s by showing your speaker’s body language. “Come here” might be accompanied by a hand on a hip and a finger curling in and out, or pointing at the spot in question. The head might be held a little higher, the chest held upright in perfect posture. Contrast that with someone trying to persuade, where the posture won’t be so assertive: the shoulders might be hunched, the head drawn down on the neck. Instead of pointing at the partner or at the space the speaker desires the listener to occupy, maybe the speaker pats the couch beside him (or her). Maybe s/he is sitting, not standing.

There are a million ways to convey body language, and of course, this is a spot — just like those darn pesky adverbs — that can trip you up. Why? How? Didn’t I just say body language is good?

Yes, but too much of it, or when used at the wrong time, and you’ve undermined yourself.

I know. It’s hard. It’s confusing.

Remember, folks, that writing is a CRAFT. Sometimes, what seems vitally important in the early stages of a manuscript’s development becomes fodder for the delete key later on. And often, the reverse is true as you get to know your characters and the situations they find themselves in.

So give it a try. Take a hard look at your writing. Are you a Tom Swiftly? Do you over-adverb your dialogue tags?

If you need help, you know where and how to reach me. I’m here to help, after all. And in the meantime, keep the questions and good stuff coming!

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