Thursday, December 29, 2011

Meet Deb Victoroff - Author

Today it's my great pleasure to introduce my readers to a debut author who just recently signed with Musa Publishing. Say hello to Deb Victoroff. Her most recent work is being released today, and she’s managed to squeeze a bit of time in for us and this interview. So let’s get on with it.

First of all, tell us the source of your inspiration for House and Garden.

Hi Cornell, and thank you for hosting me. I know you’re busy with the release of your own novel, Lost in the Bayou, so thank you especially for this!

My inspiration came from a country house (really a shack that aspired to be a cottage) that my old boyfriend Hal and I purchased on a tiny neglected peninsula on Long Island.  Just after we bought it he got a new job, which required his working in the city (Manhattan) and meant I would be spending the first weekends alone at the house.  I looked forward to this – I was planning on gardening for the first time – making the garden pretty with lots of flowers and a little stone path – perhaps foxglove, irises, Montauk daisies.  I had big plans.  But first I had to deal with the overgrowth of a backyard that had not been touched in years.  There were vines strangling the trees, choking the rose bushes, weaving through the lawn.  It was just as I describe in the story: the lawn was like walking on a field of pencils strewn about. 

As I confidently started out with my clippers my first mission was to take care of these old vines.  But I soon learned that they were too strong for my clippers: I practically took off my thumb holding them and attempting to cut them off the trees.  They were simply too strong for my hand strength on the clippers, and the clipper blade kept slipping, always aiming for my fingers.  Bugs came out of nowhere to attack me and climb into my shirtsleeves; everything that had jaws or pinchers bit me and stung me.  I pushed a wad of weeds into a trash barrel to compact it and the thorns punched through and punctured my hands.  As evening came, and the mosquitoes started on my ankles and worked their way up to my face, I was really beginning to feel like the garden did not like me there, trying to gentrify it. 

I thought: this is something Stephen King would write about.  Maybe I should try to write it myself?

That’s very interesting and a bit spooky, for sure. Let’s switch gears here for a moment and talk a little about how you create your characters. Are they based on people you know, or do they each have a little of Deb Victoroff inside them?

Well, I can only speak to this short story regarding character creation.  Although I’ve written short plays, those characters were created out of whole cloth.  In this short story, the lead character Elise Lambert is absolutely based on me – but I am only the most skeletal of templates.  Elise is not intended to be an adorable chipper, good-natured young woman.  She’s a bit of a loner, not good at personal relationships, somewhat judgmental with a superiority complex that comes from assuming that others are going about life the wrong way, and that’s why they don’t “get” her.  These traits lead directly to her assumptions about how easy it will be to shape her garden to how she feels it SHOULD look, changing things to suit her.  She likes to be in control for sure.  She’s a film editor by trade, and the cutting and shaping of stories has given her an unrealistic sense of how life can be modified to one’s tastes. 

So I am by trade a film/video editor and although I have no illusions about the real world vs. the filmed world, I thought someone for whom those worlds blurred together would make for an interesting character.  Also, I am different from Elise in that I like people and enjoy their company, although I enjoy blocks of time alone for sure.  I hope I am slightly less of a social misfit than Elise.

I’m paraphrasing R.L. Stine, the creator of the Goosebumps series, but he said something like “There’s nothing more enjoyable than scaring children.” Perhaps he’ll leave a comment and correct me. My question for you is, do you enjoy scaring your readers?

I would be honored and flattered to scare my readers!  I would dread hearing that the story is ok, but not scary, or not scary enough.  I don’t know how people will respond to it… talk about scary: writing something and asking the public to read it is absolutely terrifying!  I am in awe of writers who can do this well.  I remember reading “The Shining” by Stephen King.  I started out in my own room reading and by the middle of the story I could not read it if I was alone.  I had to be in a room with another person.  Same with “Dracula”.  That’s a talent I would love to have!  For any writer, making the “audience” respond, in whatever way you intend, be it tears, laughter, or horror, that’s the name of the game.  A story is ultimately just typewritten symbols, shaped into words, put on paper in a certain order.  If you can make another person react emotionally to those words that you as the writer put in an order that you chose, isn’t that something?  I typically write humor and to have someone tell me they laughed at something of mine they read is worth about 30 minutes of “glow” for me.

Give us a couple of names. Who are your favorite authors?

Well, the Big Kahuna for horror writers is of course Stephen King. (I know you’re a fan as well!) There’s that perpetual argument about whether his books are “worthy” – most people consider his stuff as pulp or like they do pop music.  It causes a reaction but that reaction is elicited by cheap tricks.  I can’t join this argument.  I have read horror that’s considered “literature”: “Dracula”, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, “The Monkey’s Paw”, “The Telltale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Poe, and many others, and I can say that they all frightened me.  What is really difficult I think is to keep horror and suspense up for the length of a novel.  That’s why there are so many great short horror stories and not so many great horror novels. 

“Playboy Magazine” which I actually used to read (I had 4 brothers so believe me there were plenty around the house) used to have great short stories – good horror in particular.  One of the best I ever read was by the cartoonist Gahan Wilson.  Titled “The Manuscript of Dr. Arness”, I think it’s an example of a perfect short horror story.  It’s brilliant.  I also like Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, and Peter Straub.  Charles Dickens is my favorite all-around writer and I would count “A Christmas Carol” as a wonderful paranormal story!

Of course I also like chick lit (Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher), and spy novels (Le Carre, Ian Fleming, Ken Follet), everything really.  I must say a book that I read as young kid and which I will never forget is Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”.  That story had everything.  I was frightened in the middle, and sad and sentimental at the end.  I wonder if kids still read that?

Let’s talk a little about your publisher, Musa. I’ve been reading about them on Absolute Write and some other blogs. I understand they’re concentrating their publishing efforts entirely in the digital format realm at the present time. Personally, I think that’s a great idea because the eBook market is exploding and should continue to do well in the future. Did you have any reservations about being solely digital when you signed with them?

At first I approached the idea of digital publication with trepidation. I was one of those who thought I would never, ever give up three-dimensional paper books.  But then I downloaded one (“And Here’s the Kicker” – great by the way) and I was hooked.  Now I see that it is a perfectly legitimate way to purchase and read books and stories.  In fact, I think the digital form may save short stories.  There are so few places to publish and read them. And I am very pleased that Musa and I found each other.  They are a tremendously hard-working group – a small operation with four cornerstones and several freelancers.  I like the choices they are making and also the fact that they represent so many different genres, but not scattershot.  They show great respect to the authors and all their books.

Tell us a little about the chronology. What steps led up to the contract?

Musa has a good system.  You send them a synopsis and if they like it, they ask to see the first 15 pages.  Nail biting ensues.  If they like the first 15 pages, then they ask for the manuscript (digitally).  More nail biting.  If they like the book/story, they send you a contract.  Jumping up and down follows. 

I’m looking at your cover and wondering if you had to furnish that or did Musa create it for you?

Musa has as one of their cornerstones the artist Kelly Shorten who designs the cover against a template of the Musa logo.  She did my cover; I’m not sure if Musa has other artists as well.  She read my story to get a feel for what my piece was about and came up with the most perfect image; I couldn’t believe it.  It was as if I gave her a photo of the wetlands behind my old house.  It had exactly the elements of mystery and bayside growth I imagined.  We tried adding an insect to the picture (I have some angry insects in the story) – it didn’t work.  Too obvious.  We got rid of it.  The only issue I had with the image was that it seemed as if it was daytime – Kelly darkened the photo and added shadows under the boardwalk.  Then it was perfect.

Okay, let’s stay with House and Garden for a little longer. Give us a teaser and quote your favorite passage from it. Make it something scary if you’d like, but not a spoiler.

Here’s a bit from the beginning.

"We’re home, Solo," Elise smiled, as Solo lifted a leg and peed on a bush, then trotted around the side of the house and disappeared.

Elise unpacked the car and walked up the porch stairs to the front of the house.  As she put her key into the door, she felt a wispy touch on her cheek.  She reflexively stroked at it, and saw tangled in her sweater cuff, an enormous black spider.  She screamed and backed against the screen shaking her hand as if it were on fire. 

“Get off, get off, get off!” she cried.

Her heart raced, she twisted and jumped back.  She looked again at her sleeve, her eyes wide with fear.  Nothing.  It must’ve fallen off.  She looked down at her feet but saw nothing.  Sighing, she said aloud, “My God, what a baby I am.”  Her heart slowed a little as she reached for the doorknob.

She looked at her screen.  She’d put an elbow clean through it; it looked like a mesh blossom blooming on one side of the door.   Her elbow was bleeding.

Well she was a homeowner now, she thought, and this would be the first of many small injuries and home repairs.   She blamed it on the spider.  Spiders had always frightened Elise; the multiple legs, those horrific faces, and the way they appeared out of nowhere… 

“Get used to it, kiddo,” she said to herself,  “you’re on their turf now.”   Solo came around the corner, inquisitive, and Elise let him sweep by her into the house.  “Good boy,” she said.  “Let’s get inside.”  She followed Solo into the house, turning once more to scan the porch, and closed the door.

Tell our readers one unusual thing about you that we would never suspect.

I love banjo music.  I love Bluegrass and banjo specifically.  I was the music editor on the HBO show “Sex and the City” for one season (and the assistant for 4).  I do not find Brad Pitt attractive at all.  That insurance commercial where everyone is “paying it forward” makes me tear up every time.  Ridiculous.

Speaking of banjo music, I’m guessing you liked the movie, Deliverance. But we won’t go there this time. Instead, tell us where we can get a copy of House and Garden. Also, will it work for Kindle and Nook and all of those other eReaders out there?

As of Friday December 30th it will be available for download on  24 hours later (I think) it will be up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s websites.  And yes, there are several formats available so it shouldn’t be too hard to download onto your smart phone, or iPad, or computer, or Kindle/Nook.  (sounds like Brundle/Fly)

Well, I’m certain I speak for all of our readers when I say thank you for taking the time for the interview. I know everyone wishes you the best for House and Garden and all your future works.

Monday, December 19, 2011

And the Winner is...

The field wasn't overly full (we only had ten entries) but the winner has been determined. After taking all correct entries and generating a winning number from a random number generator online, the name associated with that winning position is... (drum roll)


Sharon wins the beautiful coffee mug with the dramatic graphic of the Lost in the Bayou cover. Let's hope she enjoys her beverage of choice and thinks of us as she's drinking it. Actually, she may end up using it as a pencil holder on  her desk, but that's fine, too. It's now hers to do with as she pleases.

Congratulations, Sharon! Thanks for participating.

Now, moving on. I'm currently in the process of creating a new contest for our readers. So check back later today and see what the great prize will be this time. It's going to be exciting, I assure you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Trailer

The contest for the beautiful coffee mug is over! I will announce the winner tomorrow, so check back to get the scoop on that. Meanwhile, take a look at the video that's just been released for Lost in the Bayou. Naturally, we would like to get as many viewers as possible, so feel free to pass it along, share it, or link to it. And thanks. By the way, if you need a trailer for your own book, I would be happy to share the contact info of the company who created this one. Their prices are totally reasonable. Just leave a comment and I'll get back with you.

Also, I will be announcing a fabulous new contest Monday or Tuesday. So check back for that, too! Also, if the embedded video is playing too slowly and not loading properly, go to the direct connect at You Tube. HERE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time for a Contest! And a prize!


In case you haven't been following along and anxiously counting the days with the rest of us, this is the magical day when Lost in the Bayou is being released through Musa Publishing

Since we haven't given anything away to our dear readers in some time, I thought it seemed appropriate to give away something related to that milestone event.

And that's exactly what we've decided to do. I'm confident that most of you take in some liquids on a daily basis. What's your pleasure? Coffee? Tea? Water? Milk? Cola? Or how about a nice warm mug of cocoa on the coming winter mornings. Well, whatever you like to drink, we've got just the mug to hold it. Check out that photo.

That's the mug we're giving away. A beautiful white ceramic cylindrical contemporary coffee mug with a handy handle (it's a mug) and a striking high resolution image of the Lost in the Bayou cover so artfully created by Lisa Lingenfelter Dovichi (of the Musa Publishing Art Department) and beautifully reproduced in all its splendid and colorful glory. Who could ask for anything more?

I'm sure it's going to be at about this point when the reader is sitting, eyes wide and lower jaw dropped in awe, saying, "Wow! I want that. What do I have to do to get it?" Well, hang onto your saddle horn because I'm about to tell you. And it's so very simple you won't believe it. All that's required is that you leave a comment below this post that contains the answers to the following three questions:

1. What is Robin Sherwood's age at the time the story is written?
2. What are the objects on Andy's tie?
3. What radio program is Uncle Conrad obsessed with?

Can you believe it's that easy? It is! Simply leave a comment below that includes the answers to those three questions and, if you correctly answer all three, you will be entered into a random drawing to get the beautiful coffee / tea / water / milk / cola / cocoa / whatever mug with the book cover image imprinted thereon. It will last forever provided it is not dropped or allowed to come into abrupt contact with a force greater than the tensile strength of its material composition.

A word of warning. Be wary of simply copying the answers contained in the other comments. I have several sneaky author friends who will be leaving comments containing BOGUS and INCORRECT information just to throw you off track. Remember, if your answers are wrong, you won't be entered. Nuff said?

The answers may be found at the Musa website by clicking HERE. Or they can be found when you visit the mini website by clicking HERE. To make certain you come up with the right answers, you can order the book by clicking HERE. And even if you don't win, you will have had an exciting adventure.

This contest will run from now until midnight, CST on December 16th, 2011. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 19th, 2012. Be sure to include in your comment a means of contacting you if you're declared the lucky winner. Contest is open only to entrants with a shipping address in the continental United States.

Best of luck to everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coffee Mug Giveaway

I've decided to change the rules. This contest was originally scheduled to run until 12/31. However, I have something else I want to do before the end of the month, so I'm shortening the contest entry window to 12/16. If you've already entered, you're golden. If not, you need to get with the program and get your entry posted post haste and no later than midnight CST on 12/16.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A special thanks to this reviewer -

What a wonderful surprise to find this review on my book site this morning. It comes from a fellow author, a Mr. Joe Perrone, Jr. This is the kind of review an author lives for. Thanks Joe.

Glad I "found" Lost in the Bayou -

Cornell DeVille is not exactly a household name, but if this talented author continues to turn out books like this one, he soon will be. I stumbled across his work on an authors website that I frequent, and was intrigued by its title and description. I downloaded a free sample and was immediately captivated by the opening scene (which, unfortunately, was also the extent of the "free" part). "Oh, what the heck?" I thought, "For $3.99 how can I go wrong?"

So, I purchased it. Big mistake! Now it's two-thirty in the AM, and I've just finished reading what is technically a YA mystery, but qualifies, in my opinion, as a book suited for all age groups - it's that good!

Lost In The Bayou (don't you just love the title?) tells the tale of two young children, trapped in a battle with a crazed uncle who is intent upon acquiring their father's estate at any cost, even if means killing his niece and nephew to accomplish his goal. Along the way we are treated to scenarios painted with a brush that is virtually dripping with descriptive adjectives of every color and hue. Set in the Sixties, Lost In The Bayou is replete with vivid images of that historic era, including references to hit songs and automobiles popular at the time.

Then, there's the antagonist's obsession with The Lone Ranger, a theme that runs throughout the book, serving as a metaphor for the battle between good and evil. The characters are as varied and three dimensional as any of those created by the likes of Twain, and just as endearing. I especially enjoyed meeting Mrs. Deffenbaugh, the housekeeper.

Lost In The Bayou is a story that will definitely suck you in - much like the quicksand that surrounds the big cypress tree - but to find out how it's done, you'll just have to buy the book and read it! Great job, Mr. DeVille. Keep 'em coming!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What readers are saying...

It was only a week ago that Lost in the Bayou was released through the Euterpe imprint at Musa Publishing. It's been a slow start so far, but the momentum is building and it's most encouraging to read the wonderful reviews that are coming in. I wanted to reprint a few of them for you in this post.

Let's start with Jenn from Jenn's Book Blog.

This book was amazing. Your attention is grabbed on the first page and it's a roller coaster ride through the rest of the book. The words paint such a picture in your head you feel like you are right there with the characters. Alternately throughout this book i found myself with goosebumps, my heart racing, and almost crying from imagining what the characters are experiencing and feeling. I read the entire book in a matter of hours because i couldn't tear myself away. I can't wait to read more of DeVille's stories.

Sharon from Missouri writes:

I started reading this book when I went to bed the other night, thinking that I would read a chapter or two, get drowsy and fall asleep. It didn't quite turn out that way. By around 3:00am I had finished the last page. It was definitely a page turner. I simply couldn't put it down. I kept thinking, "okay this chapter won't leave me wanting more. I'll turn out the light and go to sleep as soon as I finish it." But each chapter did leave me wondering what would happen next. The deeper into the book I got the faster my heart would race and I found myself reading even faster. I would recommend this to any young reader or older reader (like myself) who enjoys a good read. It is such a good story that everyone will enjoy it. I would love to see this come out as a movie. The characters jump out of the pages and come to life so easily. I think this author will go far and I certainly plan to read everything I can that he has written. Mr. DeVille, thank you for letting your imagination take me somewhere I've never been. Please continue your wonderful writing, many young people will enjoy this for years to come. You are truly a gifted writer.

All the way from Australia, Vonnie comments:

Such a great novel for the YAs. A bit of gruesome, a bit of mystery, a bit of pathos, even an alligator or two. What's not to like? I defy anyone to put this book down once they've started, not even for fire, flood or famine. DeVille has crafted an intriguing tale of two kids whose parents have supposedly died in a plane crash. Their nearest relative is an uncle straight out of the original Grimm fairy tales. Of course he's nutty as a fruitcake but dangerous - very dangerous. So the kids escape to the bayou. Hobson's choice. Great storytelling where problem is piled upon problem. Always good to see enterprising kids outwit evil adults.

Kerry from Colorado says:

Cornell DeVille has done an amazing job in this YA suspense/thriller! I had plans of reading this book slowly, taking my time to savor the Bayou, get to know the characters and enjoy the read. Well, Cornell, in the BEST way possible, you grabbed my plans, wadded them up and threw them into the flaming oil lantern! Each chapter had me wanting to delve deeper into the bayou (I've never been there, but my mind was taking me all over the swamp!) and I could not get enough of the words on each page. If you are looking for a thrill, for the unexpected, take a trip with the kids in Lost In The Bayou. You won't be disappointed!

Katherine from the Show-Me State writes:

Cornell Deville is an expert at making the mundane terrifying. Uncle Conrad lost a hand in Korea, which would normally inspire compassion, but the way he uses his metal prosthesis--to threaten children with--is scary. Deville does that with other things, too...blueberries, for instance, and the Lone Ranger. He is also an expert at evoking mood in every scene. His heroine, Robin, is a completely believable 14-year-old girl, especially when it comes to her relationship with her younger brother. Most importantly, the book is just the right amount of scary for middle grade teen readers--it doesn't baby them by softpedalling the danger, but it stops short of traumatizing them. I highly recommend Lost in the Bayou.

Dannyboy from Kansas tells us:

I don't read YA, but my daughter wanted this book for her Kindle. I was out of reading material, so decided to scan the first few pages. Then I didn't stop. That Conrad character was such a slimy piece of work. I knew those kids were in trouble from the get-go. This is exactly the kind of book I craved as a kid. I would read it under the covers with my flashlight, scaring myself spitless. Then I'd eventually drop off to sleep with every light in my room on, the blankets pulled up to my chin, and waiting for the bedroom doorknob to turn. Reminds me of the old Alfred Hitchcock shows I used to watch with my dad. My daughter's going to love it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Supporting Characters

Novels typically contain our main characters--the hero and the villain. However, except for the rare instance, these characters can’t perform their play on a stage totally devoid of other actors. Just like the leading men and women in the Hollywood films, our supporting characters, though sometimes underappreciated, are really a vital requirement.

In Lost in the Bayou, one supporting actress who gets a minimal amount of screen time is Mrs. Deffenbaugh. But even though she didn’t have to memorize a lot of lines (for which she is terribly grateful), she delivers the ones she’s been given with star quality and in one take.

The Euterpe Blog over at Musa Publishing has printed an article this morning about our dear Mrs. Deffenbaugh. Let's mosey on over there and read the rest of the story.

Click HERE.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Press Release Published!

Yes! The Kansas City Star published a press release on Lost in the Bayou today. I don't want to take up a ton of space here, because I want people to see the contest below, but feel free to visit my website and give the release a read. Click HERE.

And don't forget to enter our contest. That mug would look great on your desk!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interview with Warner McCorkle

Today, we’re at the Sherwood Estate in Louisiana, and we’re speaking with Mr. Warner McCorkle. He’s agreed to give us an interview regarding the events at the estate after the children left. So, let’s begin.

Warner, it's obvious that the things Miss Sherwood describes in Lost in the Bayou were unusual, to say the least. Her narrative gives us a good idea of what happened with her and Andy on their trip to the bayou and the Voodoo Swamp. However, I’m certain there were some things that occurred here at the house with Conrad after they left. Can you tell us a little about that?

Yes, sir, I can. Before they left that morning, Miss Robin gave me the cellar key. She told me to lock Mister Conrad down there so she and Andy could get away from him. Or at least get a good head start on him. Well, that’s exactly what I did.

How did you get him to go down in the cellar in the first place?

Well, that was Missus Deffenbaugh’s doing actually. She told Mister Conrad that the children were hiding in the cellar. And that’s because Miss Robin told her to tell him that. So that was one of the first places he looked. And when he went down there, I slammed the door and locked him in. And I made pretend that the children had done it. I even hollered at them. They weren’t there, of course, but it made him think they were.

How long did you keep Conrad locked in there?

Oh, most of the day. Like Miss Robin asked me to. I let him out around suppertime. I can tell you, he wasn’t very pleased about being stuck in there all day. Especially without his whiskey. It scared me a bit when I let him out and he waved that hooky hand of his at me. He was using some language that his mother would be mighty ashamed to hear.

So, you locked him in the cellar for the day, and you let him out that evening. What happened next?

Well, he got pretty drunk that night. I could still hear him in the wee hours of the morning, slamming doors and cussing like a sailor. He was searching for the children. The next morning he told me he was going to take Beau Diddly, that’s my mule, into the bayou and find the children. I told him my mule didn’t take kindly to strangers riding him. He said that didn’t matter a hoot. He was already drinking at breakfast that morning.


Oh, yes, sir. Mister Conrad was a drinker all right. He had a bottle with him every minute of the day. And night. Anyway, he said he was taking Beau Diddly to the bayou and find the children. I knew there wasn’t no way I could stop him. I’m an old man. I knew I was gonna have to outthink him. So I made up a little story about the old cypress tree down there.

What kind of story did you make up?

I told him there was limbless cypress tree on a little island where the creek forks. That part was true. I told him it was hollow. That part was true, too. And I told him the children said they were gonna hide inside it. That part wasn’t true, but I wanted to lead him to that tree.

Why? What was so special about that particular tree?

Well, it wasn’t the tree I was leading him to, actually. In order to get to the tree, you have to get past the quicksand. There’s a big pool of it, and that’s what I was leading him to.

Weren’t you afraid Beau Diddly would get stuck in it?

A little. But I figured Beau is a pretty smart old mule. Animals can sense danger. He would balk before he got to it.  And when that mule balks, there ain’t no way of getting him to move. That would force Conrad to get off and walk the rest of the way. Right into that old big pool of quicksand. And that would be the end of that.

Is that what happened?

Well, sir, I don’t think I should say anything more about that. Miss Robin might be unhappy with me if I told any more and spoiled her story for anyone who’s reading it.

You’re absolutely right, Warner. Let’s stop at that point. And thanks for spending the time with us. To get a little more info on the story, visit the mini website HERE. To find out everything that happened, our readers can order their own copy. Lost in the Bayou will be available everywhere ebooks are sold this Friday, December 2.

Or you can pre-order it right now by clicking HERE.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Neil Gaiman said Spread this Around

I recently stumbled onto an article on Neil Gaiman's blog that I felt, and he agreed, should be spread around among authors and writers.

The following is copied directly from Neil's post...

John M. Ford was pretty much the smartest writer I knew. Mostly. He did one thing that was less than smart, though: he knew he wasn't in the best of health, but he still didn't leave a proper will, and so didn't, in death, dispose of his literary estate in the way that he intended to while he was alive, which has caused grief and concern to the people who were closest to him.

He's not the first writer I know who didn't think to take care of his or her posthumous intellectual property. For example, I knew a writer -- a great writer -- separated from and estranged from his wife during the last five years of his life. He died without making a will, and his partner, who understood and respected his writing, was shut out, while his wife got the intellectual property, and has not, I think, treated it as it should have been treated. These things happen, and they happen too often.

There are writers who blithely explain to the world that they didn't make a will because they don't mind who gets their jeans and old guitar when they die but who would have conniptions if they realised how much aggravation their books or articles or poems or songs would cause their loved ones (or editors, anthologists or fans) after their death...

Writers put off making wills (well, human beings put off making wills, and most writers are probably human beings). Some of us think it's self-aggrandising or foolish to pretend that anyone would be interested in their books or creations after they're dead. Others secretly believe we're going to live forever and that making a will would mean letting Death in a crack.

Others make wills, but don't think to take into account what happens to our literary estate as a separate thing from the disposition of our second-best beds, which means unqualified or uninterested relatives can find themselves in control of everything the author's written. Some of us are just cheap.

All this bothered me, and still bothers me.

Shortly after Mike Ford's death, I spoke to Les Klinger about it. Les is a lawyer, and a very good one, and also an author. I met him through Michael Dirda, and the Baker Street Irregulars.

Les immediately saw my point, understood my crusade and went off and made a document for authors. Especially the lazy sort of authors, or just the ones who haven't quite got around to seeing a lawyer, or who figure that one day it'll all sort itself out, or even the ones to whom it has never occurred that they need to think about this stuff. 

<more... including a link to a downloadable form... >

Monday, November 7, 2011

Author Poll

Let's have some fun today and get to know each other a little better. On the right sidebar, you'll notice a poll. I'm trying to get a feel for the readership of this blog so I can gear my posts toward subject matter that will be of interest to the largest number of readers.

I hope you will take a moment to fill in your responses. If you write in a genre that I haven't included, leave me a comment and I'll add it.

Also, if you're not a "follower" I hope you will click that "FOLLOW" icon. And thanks if you do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet Emma Lane - Author

Today we have another Musa author with us. Please welcome Emma Lane. She’s offered to spend some time with us and tell us a little about her new novel, Belinda, My Love. So, let’s get started.

Where did your inspiration for this book come from? 

Belinda is the youngest of three sisters of the Vicar Robinson. She can’t remember her mother who passed away too soon, but her father approves of his daughters who engage in God’s work. Belinda has had a very liberal upbringing. She lives in a small community where everyone knows everyone. Belinda is a keen herbalist/chemist. She helps the local doctor heal the sick and involves herself in medical research by mail. At the time of our story, she is 19 years old and about to make her come-out in London.

How do you create your characters? Are they based on people you know, or do they each have a little of Emma Lane inside them?

I am part owner of an herb/perennial shoppe. I wanted to write more about herbs, but Belinda got involved in her London adventure. She is her own person and very strong minded, if I may say so. 

BELINDA, MY LOVE is both Belinda’s story and Quinton Royston, Lord Harrington’s. He appears in all three of the stories and finally had to have his own with Belinda. He is the rogue who could not be introduced to the young ladies in MY PASSIONATE LOVE and the ostracized Rogue who came to Melanie’s rescue in A SCANDALOUS DESIGN.  Who, by the way, doesn’t love a rogue? Especially a handsome one with a crooked grin. To watch him fall in love and make a fool of himself was too precious for words. 

I ask each of the Musa authors I interview to speak a bit about Musa and their publishing model. They’re concentrating their publishing efforts entirely in the digital format realm at the present time. Did you have any reservations about being solely digital when you signed with them?

Not in the least. I would follow the Fab Four to the ends of the earth. That entire staff is a group of movn’ grovn’ smart ladies. They’ve set up a system that promises to open the eyes of the entire publication community. I predict a new wave of transparency between authors and publishers in the future.

Tell us a little about the chronology. What steps led up to the contract?

Well, first you muddle around and write the book. Then you rewrite it. and rewrite, and rewrite. Then you submit, and submit…do you want me to go on? Then when you get the offer, you do several snoopy dances around your living room, out into the driveway and into the street. Then you are introduced to your editor, and you wonder if you ever rewrote the story. It’s quite an education. 

I’m guessing an artist at Musa created your cover. Did you have any input in that creation?

It’s a neat system. I can’t explain it all to you, but Kelly was my creator. We do work together, but the powers that be have the last say so. I love my covers a lot.

Tell our readers one unusual thing about you that we would never suspect.

I am a wildflower buff and an amateur birdwatcher. I also write contemporary and have one in publication over @ Desert Breeze Publishing.  It’s a romantic suspense heavy in nature and birds.

It sounds like you’re a very busy author. Where can our readers get a copy of your Belinda, My Love? Also, will it work for Kindle and Nook and all of those other eReaders out there?  

I’m a bad one to ask. To my knowledge our books are available on most popular sites. I will tell you that I prefer you download from the Musa site and then go from there. I read my stories right from my computer and it works out just fine. Other authors will probably provide better detail than I.

‘The Vicar’s Daughters Three’ are a set, but they can be read alone as well without disturbing the stories. I very much enjoyed writing them and I hope you will like reading them. Aurora Regency has a fine selection of Regency and Historical stories for your selection. MUSA PUBLISHING has something fun going on all the time. Do stop by and give us a visit and a shout-out.

Thanks for having me here. I’ve enjoyed our interview very much.

Thanks, Emma, for spending the time with us today and giving us a glimpse into your stories. We’re wishing you the best of luck with these and future books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lauren Hunter - The Coffee Shop

Today we have another debut author from the Musa Publishing stable of creative writers. I want to welcome Lauren Hunter and thank her for spending the time with us today. Lauren has agreed to answer some questions for us regarding her soon-to-be-released paranormal romance novel. So, let’s begin.

First off, tell us a little about The Coffee Shop. Where did your inspiration for this book come from?

I had planned to write a horror novel, had it all plotted out in my head. Then that morning, the second I woke up, the idea for this one literally popped into my head. It was one simple idea, from there I tweaked it and continued tweaking it, the ideas just jumping out one after the other in quick succession, and the book was born. I then sat down and wrote it in 19 days. So I guess you could say the inspiration came from a story I heard years ago, about this strange dream, and it just took off from there. As to why it came to me just then, in that moment, I cannot say. That seems to be the way with all my stories.

The story is about Derrick Sloane. He wakes up one day to discover a dream he had was actually a look into his own future, five months into his future to be exact. And when he meets the woman of his dreams he realizes his interactions with her are altering the timeline he dreamed would happen. So he tries to fix it, but every time he does something changes, and not always in the way he had hoped. But then something even more unusual happens, and he sees two alternate timelines. And now he must make a decision, the most difficult one he has ever made.

That’s amazing. I can’t imagine writing a whole book in only 19 days. So, once you had the idea, how did you begin creating your characters? Are they based on people you know, or do they each have a little bit of Lauren Hunter inside them?

That’s kind of like the question, which came first the chicken or the egg? Do we create characters and build a story around them, or the other way around? With me it’s a bit of both. The characters and the story are so closely connected that to me they are all part of the same animal. The story makes the characters what they are, in my mind. What kind of character do they need to be to do what is required of them within the story? 

I assume that all writers draw on their own personal life experiences when it comes to their characters. The degree to which they integrate themselves into those characters may depend on the writer. But I have no doubt we all do it. I have drawn on life experiences, and observations, and have incorporated them into my characters to one degree or another.

I just recently did an interview with Arley Cole who wrote The Blacksmith’s Daughter. She’s also with Musa, and she spoke very highly of them. What’s your experience been so far, and did you have any reservations about going with digital publishing rather than the traditional hard copy printed version? Also, give us your opinion regarding the future of digital publishing?

Do I have reservations? None whatsoever. Digital has overtaken hard copy in sales. It is the market of the future. The price and convenience are to be preferred by the buying market. To order it whenever you wish, from wherever you wish, and receive it instantly…How can you beat that? And this should also help to keep the price down. There are those people that prefer the physical book in their hands though, the tactile experience, the look of it, the smell of the paper…But digital is definitely the market of the future. It wasn’t that long ago I heard it was 65% of the market. Who knows what it is now. Of course, it would always be amazing to see and hold a copy of your book in your hands, but if you can get it for a lot less, if given a choice, I would take digital. This will increase sales for authors and publishers, and give the readers more books to read for less money. Everyone wins.

Tell us a little about the chronology. How did you and Musa find each other, and what happened after that?

In this particular case there is not much to tell really. I was aware of Musa so I sent in my partial, they asked for a full, and then offered me a contract. 

I love the cover of your book. Tell us about it. How did that come about?

The covers are created by Kelly Shorten. As authors we are permitted to be a part of the creative process. We are encouraged to provide details and/or suggestions to make the cover the best it can be, reflecting the story inside through the artwork on its cover. More recently I have started researching file images myself to help them in this process. If I can find the perfect photo, that best represents the story I am telling, then all the better for both myself and the art department.   

Well, it certainly looks very professional. Can you give us a teaser and quote your favorite passage from it.

Twice fate has brought Derrick Sloane and Annie Maddock together in the same place, but will fate now be the one to tear them apart.

A favorite passage? I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite. As I allow my mind to wander through the story I find myself thinking of the various points within the storyline and what they have to say. To choose any particular one over another would be like choosing one child over another.

Fair enough. Maybe we should buy your book and then send you OUR favorite passage. And with that in mind, tell us where can our readers get a copy. Also, will it work for Kindle and Nook and all of those other eReaders out there?

Right now it is available on the Musa site

As well as Amazon US and UK, Bookstrand, All Romance/Omni lit, and Rainbow ebooks. Eventually, it will be available through Smashwords and Fictionwise as well.

And, you were telling me earlier that people can still read your book as a digital version even if they don’t have a Kindle.

That’s correct. At anyone can download a free Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac and read any of their digital books they want to purchase.

It sounds like there’s no excuse for not getting a copy of The Coffee Shop. Thank you so much Lauren for spending your time with us today. We wish you the best of luck on your journey toward Bestseller status.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Debut Author — Arley Cole

We have with us today a debut author from Musa Publishing—Arley Cole. 

The Blacksmith’s Daughter, is being released today through Musa Publishing. And on this very special day, Arley has generously agreed to spend a little time with us.

Thanks so much for visiting with us. How excited you must be. Why don’t we begin by telling us a little about your book? A lot of us would love to write a novel, but we really don’t know how to go about getting started. What was the source of your inspiration?

Well, The Blacksmith’s Daughter is my first novel. I have published some short stories, but this was the story I had to tell. I did indeed dream the opening part of the book. It was one of those really vivid dreams with dialogue and everything. So it had to be done!

Wow! I wonder where those ideas come from. But you only had the opening part at that point. Once you had the idea for the beginning, what did you do after that? How did you come up with the rest of it?

I plot best when I am working on something with my hands. In particular, I iron. 

You iron?

Yes. I know that sounds weird, but it works for me. It has amazed me just how many important scenes have unfolded in my head just like watching them on a movie while I iron! When I run out of things to iron at my house, I am perfectly willing to come to your house and do yours.

I don’t know much about ironing, but I understand what you’re saying. I have a riding lawnmower, and I get a lot of my ideas when I'm mowing my yard. I guess it’s just one of those activities that lets your mind wander. But let’s continue. What about your characters? How do you create them? Are they based on people you know, or do they each have a smidgeon of Arley Cole inside them?

Characters come to me like visions of people. It’s not really people I know, I don’t think. But I do spend a lot of time with them thinking about them and mentally putting them into non-plot situations until I feel like I know them. I also work a lot with the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator profiles and Kiersey Temperament Profiles. I see where my characters fall into personality type and that also helps me define them and get to see how they would react. Then as the plot develops it helps me keep them true to themselves.

It sounds like you really do put a lot of thought and effort into your character modeling. That’s probably why they seem so real to the reader.

Let’s talk a little about your publisher, Musa Publishing. I’ve been reading about them on a lot of blogs and websites. They’re all over Facebook. From what I’ve learned, they’re concentrating their publishing efforts entirely in the digital format realm at the present time. Personally, I think that’s a great idea, simply because the eBook market is exploding now and should continue to do well in the foreseeable future. Did you have any reservations about digital publishing when you signed with them?

Absolutely not! In fact, I submitted to Musa first because of the digital format. I had just gotten a Kindle for Christmas and was thrilled at being able to download anything I wanted to read in a matter of seconds. I was also very much taken by Musa’s dedication to building a brand and a reliable bank of literature for people who wanted something good to read, but perhaps something that wasn’t immediately findable in the general fiction stacks.

For instance, I love a Regency romance novel, but they aren’t that easy to find these days because they appeal to a specific audience. Books like The Blacksmith’s Daughter also have their specific audience—folks who love Anne McCaffrey for instance will probably enjoy the balance of fantasy and relationship in TBD. But sometimes the mainstream publishing world cares less about these specific audiences and more about making big money off the easily targeted markets.

So you’re saying that Musa could be compared to the indy film and music industries?

Exactly! This is indy publishing in many ways. But we’ve got a fantastic team of editors and artists at Musa that make sure that only the best (I giggle ecstatically that my book was selected!) gets published, so readers can feel good about purchasing a Musa book. They know they are going to get something good and something they want to read. I am very psyched about that! It is the future of publishing!

I couldn’t agree more. The last figures I read showed that the digital publishing industry would exceed $1 Billion (with a B) in sales this year. That’s huge. So tell us a little about the chronology. What steps led up to your contract with Musa Publishing?

I got so lucky! I happened to submit just at the right time when Musa was getting ready to launch. So all my stuff went at light speed. It was a matter of days from when I was asked to submit the complete manuscript to the offer of a contract. We did a super fast editing job as well—thank you, editor Angela Middaugh! And it was only a couple of months before publishing.

That’s amazing. You certainly can’t do that with a traditionally printed book. And we definitely are living in a world of instant gratification. Digital books seem to fit that need perfectly.

I’m looking at your cover and wondering if you had to furnish that or did Musa create it for you?

Oh, the fantastic artists at Musa created that from scratch for me! Thank you, Kelly and Lisa! I believe this is an original piece of Lisa Dovichi art! I submitted some basic information about setting, plot, and character, and she turned it into this beautiful graphic. Then Coreen Montagna typeset the book into a work of art—I am not kidding! Even the section dividers are made for this book. The art department is top notch!

Well, it’s apparent that Musa Publishing knows what they’re doing. They’re certainly popping up everywhere I look on the Internet these days, and they’ve created a lot of buzz in the digital publishing world in a short period of time.

But let’s get back to The Blacksmith’s Daughter before we turn off the lights and lock the doors. Where can our readers get a copy?

The Blacksmith’s Daughter is being released today, both under the YA Euterpe imprint and the Urania imprint. It is not specifically a YA novel, but it does have themes that appeal to a YA audience. I think it is a fantasy novel with elements of romance and adventure that will appeal to a wide audience.

Naturally, the book is available through Musa. And if you want a direct link to The Blacksmith's Daughter, your readers can go HERE. But it’s also available in a multitude of easily downloaded formats through and several other sites.

Well, it’s certainly serendipitous that you’re here today, since today is the release date. I know you’re excited. I can hear it in your voice. I want to thank you for being so generous and spending the time with us on this special day. I’ll close this up by asking my last question.

Are we having fun yet?

Yes! Loads of fun! Thanks!

So, there you have it. If you like YA romance, fantasy, and adventure, give this one a try and see what you think. You just may love it. And keep an eye on Arley Cole. I strongly suspect we're going to be seeing more from her.

Your Characters

My good friend and editor, Jodie Renner, sent me an email this morning regarding a great article she posted at Blood Red Pencil blog. I asked her if I could plagiarize it. She said it would be fine. So here it is. At least part of it and a link to get the remainder. It's good stuff.

Sketching Out Your Characters
by Jodi Renner, Editor 

As you formulate the plot and main characters of your novel, start jotting down info on your protagonist and other important characters, and keep filling it in as ideas occur to you. This way, you can get to know them so well that, when they’re thrown into the thick of the action or interacting with others, you won’t need to wonder how they’d act or what they’d say in various situations — you’ll already have a good handle on their background, personality, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, fears, and goals in life.

Readers are quick to judge if they think a fictional person is acting “out of character” or inconsistently with their upbringing or personality.

Here’s a checklist to guide you in brainstorming and creating your main character’s personality and background. Of course, their habits will need to fit their personality profile — a careful, precise person wouldn’t have a messy office, for example.

Name — and as you go along, does it still fit the character? If not, you can always change it later, as you get to know him/her better.  Read More >>>

And after you finish reading all of that great info, check out Jodie's website for even more good stuff. If you're in the market for an editor or proofreader, she's very professional and charges a fair price for her services. Check it out. Just go HERE.