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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cover is Finished!

Lisa Dovichi, artist extraordinaire at Musa Publishing and Euterpre, has just sent me the final comp on the new cover for Lost in the Bayou. I think she did a marvelous job on it. Fortunate is he/she who gets her to do their book cover.

The book title in the paragraph above links to my miniweb site for the novel. It's a YA thriller set in Louisiana about this... oh, let me not let the cat out of the bag.

Just click the link and be swept away to the site. I hope it piques your interest and sounds like something you'll want to download to your Kindle or other eReader. Your YA readers should love it if they like scary things. But you'll have to wait a bit because it isn't getting released until December 2, 2011. So put it on your Christmas list!

I encourage you to leave a comment below.

Amazon Signing Authors to Cut Publishers Out of the Deal

I'm linking this post to a great story from IT World based on an article from the New York Times.
First, Amazon killed, or seriously wounded, the bookstores. Now they're trying to do the same to publishers. Will publishers handle the threat of digital distribution better than the music business?
The New York Times called this, “Writing Publishers Out of the Deal,” and since New York is the hub of the traditional publishing business, this story should sound the alarm bell for the publishers still burying their corporate heads in the sand.  More >>>

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Musa Authors

If you're a writer or author, or maybe even a literary agent, you're probably aware of the buzz that's going on in the industry with the opening of Musa Publishing. If not, you can head over to Absolute Write and read about it. After you finish there, visit Facebook. And Twitter. The buzz is all over the blogosphere. The great thing is: It's all good! Everyone I have spoken with at Musa has been professional, courteous, and responsive.

If you haven't guessed, I'm a member of that author group, herd, flock, swarm, or whatever you wish to call it. We authors have started becoming acquainted with each other over the past week or so, and we're doing what we can to help each other out in our new family. Which is as it should be.

So here's my contribution:

1. If you are a Musa author, leave a comment with the title of your book. Also, if you'd like, leave a blurb so we know what it's about, and a release date if it isn't available yet. Link it to your website, blog, or wherever readers can get more info about it.

2. Email me with a short teaser about your book and I'll do as many posts as possible in the coming weeks. I'm thinking one post per week should give everyone a little exposure.
Finally, I hope you will slide over to the right sidebar and hit that "FOLLOW" button so we can get more readers and contributors on here. I may hit you up for a guest blog post at some point if you're interested in that.

If you're not a Musa author, but you'd like to check out the books we've written, you can go to the Musa Publishing site or search for Musa Publishing on