Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who can resist a hero? New Release by Word Wench Susan Lodge

I admit it. I have a soft spot for Regency Romances, especially ones that break the traditional mold. Only A Hero Will Do is definitely one of those stories.A chance meeting, a cunning woman not willing to conform to society's strict rules, and a handsome doctor. What more could you want?  I hope you enjoy this peak at Susan Lodge's new release.

ONLY A HERO WILL DO The latest release by Susan Lodge.
Hetty’s desperate gamble to avoid an odious match lands her all at sea. Can an overbearing ship’s physician really be the hero she needs to escape her treacherous family?

BLURB: Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to raise funds to escape the match she earns money the only way she knows how—gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself onboard a man-of-war under the care of its stern physician. But Hetty soon realizes that the disapproving Doctor Withington is not at all the man she had first imagined.

If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.


“Annie, will you please walk beside me? Try to remember, I am supposed to be your brother not your employer. You must keep your arm on mine.”

Annie pursed her lips but did as she was told. At five foot four, Hetty was tall enough to masquerade as a male. Her disguise was not of fine quality this time, as she had no desire to stand out in the crowd. It was serviceable and clean, if a little ill-fitting.

She resembled a rather youthful clerk.

They had left in the early hours after Hetty had written her aunt a short note to tell her not to worry. She couldn’t risk anything else, as she knew Stark and her father would ask too many questions. If she knew nothing, Aunt Amelia wouldn’t have to lie—something she didn’t like to do.

After a moment, Hetty and Annie searched for a respectable inn, both having missed breakfast. It was only after they had seated themselves in the Boar's Head and ordered a modest meal that Hetty realized it was a bad choice. The tables were occupied by groups of unsavoury looking males, half of whom were staring at Annie in a very vulgar way. Hetty looked around with a feeling of foreboding while picking at a cold rabbit pie. The room started to empty as a strange murmur of discontent rippled through the establishment.

Annie fidgeted beside her. “I don’t like it, Miss Hetty! It ain’t right.”

Hetty groaned. “Harry—not Miss Hetty! For heaven’s sake, Annie!”

“Beg pardon…Harry,” she said, as though the name was blasphemous, “but I think we should go now.”

Hetty agreed and prepared to rise when the door shot open and the remaining customers scattered in all directions. A small party of hefty men, armed with wooden batons, sauntered in and stopped in the center of the room, assessing the occupants.

Annie grabbed Hetty’s arm. “It’s the press-gang!”

It took a moment for Annie’s words to register then Hetty swallowed violently. If only her skirts were back on. One of them noticed her and narrowed his eyes with a terrifying gleam like a predator. He pointed his finger her way.

“Now, lad, I reckon you look ripe for adventure. Eager to serve your king, I wager.”

Hetty shook her head and grasped Annie. “No, sir, I have my sister here to look after.”

The man wandered closer, his fleshy face beamed and his voice cajoled. “What’s your name, lad, and how old are you?”

“Harry Blake. I am fourteen." Surely that is too young.

The man considered her for a moment, and Hetty didn’t dare to breathe.

“Bring him.”

Logic ceased. Hetty ducked under the table and tried to crawl toward the door, but one of them crunched a foul-smelling boot down on the small of her back, and her breath escaped in one whoosh of pain. A large hand hoisted her up by the neckcloth and placed her on her feet.


Susan Lodge is a life long writer, but has marketed her work just these last few years. When she is not writing, Susan tinkers on her piano, enjoys the company of her children, or takes long walks along the coastline with her real life hero. Once asked the most important piece of advice she had been given in pursuit of publication, Susan answered - The only difference between the unpublished writer and the published writer is the fact that the published writer didn't give up.

Catch up with Susan on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Change of Direction- Terror and Hope

Change is hard, and I'm not a big fan of it. Sometimes though, change is necessary. Last week, I resigned from the law firm where I'd been working these last 7 months. So, as of February 1, 2013, I'm on my own.

I'm terrified and thrilled. It's an odd combination of emotions, and at different times one wins out over the other. There's a lot to do between now and Friday to set up the firm. Oh yes, and I still need to work on cases, write, spend time with family and address all the lovely things that children bring into my life.

Making my administrative "to do" list was daunting and reassuring. I know what I have to do, and meeting deadlines is what I do for a living. I can't really complain about the short time frame because I picked it. While the next several months are likely to be harried and financially difficult, in the long run I'll be better off. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Sometimes walking the path less traveled is what we need to do. I'm betting on myself now. I can do this. Just watch me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arley Cole's Alter Ego Writes Sex

Ever wonder why a writer includes a sex scene or doesn't? Check out Arley's guest post on Lizze Leaf's blog to find out.

Lizzie's World and Beyond!: Wenchy Thursday - Arley Cole's Alter Ego Writes Se...: Arley Cole/Leigh Daley shares with us why she writes sex.  I understand her conflict over sharing with certain people, but Leigh (since she . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When Inspiration Strikes - Dusty Crabtree Guest Post

It's Awesome When Inspiration Strikes by Dusty Crabtree
The idea for Shadow Eyes actually first came to me as a screenplay for a Christian horror movie, if there ever was such a genre. The movie would have been about a cast of intertwined characters going about their lives and making mistakes with dark, creepy shadows (demons) hovering around them, whispering to them, and influencing them to do evil things. Only the audience would see the shadows. The characters would be completely oblivious. A few years after I’d had that idea, my friend suggested I write a novel like the paranormal angel books we’d been reading and loving. I’d always loved the concept of angels and demons in stories and immediately thought back to that screenplay idea. I just continued tweaking it until I had the basic concept of Shadow Eyes – a 17-year-old girl who had this special ability to see the shadows and light figures when nobody else could.
Iris thought she could ignore the shadows...until they went after everyone she loved.

BLURB: Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil. But she is the only one who can see them. She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier. Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters. First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.

To read an excerpt from Shadow Eye's, please click HERE.
Watch Shadow Eyes book trailer on YouTube.
Shadow Eyes is available at all major online bookstores.

Learn more about Dusty Crabtree on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thoughts From The Slush Pile

If you write, and submit those stories, you dread the slush pile. It's an inevitable part of the process. The way you get out of the slush and into print is to impress someone like me. Someone who has  volunteered or is low man on the totem pole and has not choice but to wade through the slush and pan for gold. So, I decided to give you another peak into the heart and mind of a slush reader (me) at Flash Fiction Online.

Sometimes what wins the heart and soul of the slush reader - to the point I'm willing to fight for the story - is hard to precisely define. Over the last several months we had two stories that illustrate the point. One of the stories I'll call a message piece, while the other was a funereal/memorial piece.

How were these very different stories alike:
(1) They were both well written. It was obvious that both writers were talented, and knew their craft;
(2) The stories were polished - no obvious typos;
(3) Both stories had voice and presence.
(4) Both took unexpected routes along the way/ presented something new.
(5) It was argued that both were not stories but rather vignettes capturing a moment in time. Usually the "NAS" notation is a death knell, but these two merited consideration regardless.

So, why did I choose to recommend one, and reject the other?


The memorial piece was soft. It invited the reader in. Many of the memorial pieces we see are bitter or drowning in grief. This one was tinged with grief, but the act of moving through grief rather than wallowing in it was the story. It was painted with the lightest brush strokes. It also used a tried and true speculative fiction trope in a new way. Because the tone and emotion was so inviting, I was willing to overlook some things which might otherwise resulted in a rejection - such as a main character that did not sound age appropriate

Message pieces are difficult. You always run a risk of losing the story to the message. The best ones, in my opinion, are the message stories where you don't realize that it was a message story until it is done. If the message is laid in too heavily, no one is going to read the story. In my opinion, this second story was strident, and very heavy handed. It relied on a gimmick to beat me over the head with the message if I couldn't glean it from the prose. It was rejected because of it's tone. If you are working on a message piece, my advice for you would be to use a soft touch.

When we're writing, we need to pay attention to the mood of the story. Sometimes a mood will draw people in. Other times it will repulse them. Sometimes you will want to repulse the readers, but realize each time you do, you make it easier for the reader to put the story down. In a longer work, you're going to mix in the heavy moods with the lighter ones. But short stories don't give you that leeway. You can hit one emotional note. Make sure you're hitting the right one with the right intensity.

Good luck, and good writing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act.
Recently, I've been listening to the music from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog with my boys. Why do I bring this up? I mean other than to note the amazing writing by Joss Whedon, and the fab acting by Neil Patrick Harris, Nathian Fillion and Felicia Day? One of the songs is called "My Freeze Ray" in which Billy (Neil Patrick Harris) notes that with his freeze ray he will "find the time to find the words." Now, he's talking about the words to tell Penny (Felicia Day) that he loves her. But still, it made me think about my day, and how a freeze ray would help it.

People and obligations push and pull on us. Many days it doesn't feel like there are enough hours to get everything done. All my "jobs" focus on deadlines. The kids have to be at school by a certain time. Court starts at certain time, and while the judge can be late, I can't. Pleadings have deadlines. For some reason, the school wants me to pick up the kids at the end of the day. Go figure. The animals want to be fed. The dogs want to be walked at least twice a day. Can you believe that? Food needs to get on the table and put into the children. Theoretically, the house needs to be cleaned. I check my e-mails (all three), review the slush for Flash Fiction Online, participate in my writing group discussions, market, and participate in three different blogs on a regular basis. Oh, and then, I need to write, edit and submit my fiction. When I tell people about my "normal" day, and they look at me funny and tell me my "normal" day, isn't.

So, how to "find the time to find the words" until Dr. Horrible's Freeze Ray is available at your local discount story?

For me, it means:

1. Engage in triage.

Each morning I spend about 15 minutes writing down what absolutely positively must be done that day. Once I have the impossibly long list, I then assign a level of priority to those items. I tackle the items by their priority between meetings and court appearances. E-mails are read and responded to at 7 am, 11 am. 2pm and 5pm. I try to limit my e-mail checking to those windows to reduce the distraction. If I have a "free" moment, I'm less tempted to stray onto the Internet or other distractions because I can look at my list and work on an item (or part of an item) that fits the time slot. I triage my work load before I leave the office as well so I know what is likely to be my first priority in the morning.

2. Watch very little television.

While it might not be the opiate of the masses, television is the great time sink. There are those guilty pleasures - or to borrow a phrase from Castle - also a Nathan Fillion show - the "deep fried Twinkies" of my life. Castle is one of them. A few other shows fall into this category. But I know every time I watch a show, I've chosen not to use that time to write or do something with my family.

3. Jealously protect my writing time.

Just like any other work assignment or meeting, writing is an entry on my calender. I have a regular appointment from 9 pm to 11 pm each night. Does that mean I do nothing else for those two hours, seven days a week? I wish. What it means is when I watch TV, go out with friends or sleep during that time, I am aware I am choosing those tasks over writing.

4.  Set goals or deadlines.

I've written before about inching toward success on this blog before. You can find that post here. I have a daily writing goal so when I do start, I'm not allowed to stop until the 2 hours time slot is over or I've finished the daily word count. Because I have such a wimpy goal I always end a writing session feeling good because I've usually blows the minimum word count away.  My writing goal is fairly modest (250 words a day), I usually complete the requirement in the first half hour, but since I still have an hour and a half left time-wise, well, you get the picture. 
Speaking of pictures  . . .

5.  Don't drop the tiger.

If these something threats to chew your backside off, all attention must be focused there. That means, that sometimes writing takes a back seat. Be flexible with your goals and deadlines. Realize that sometimes the tiger's going to win. You may have to take a break from writing for a day or more due to other commitments. Just remember that when that happens, get back to writing as soon as possible, and don't worry about "making up" the word count. If you do, the energy you'll need to overcome the inertia will get greater every day and you won't get back in the saddle again.

6. Get away from the writing and spend time with people once and a while.

To write what you know, you need to participate in life. Writers spend a lot of time paying attention to the world around them. The hot dog vender's mustache might wind up on a character. How he deals with a difficult client might add some local color to a scene.

Until we all have freeze rays life will always be about balance.

You can find the time to find the words.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ever wonder where inspiration comes from?

For another Musa writer - Liz DeJesus it comes from listening to music. Check out what she has to say at
Musa Publishing: I LOVE MUSIC: by Liz DeJesus  

Looking Forward (Not Resolutions)

Last week was a week for looking back, recalling those good old days, and launching into the new year without the last year's baggage. If you can figure out how to make this work, please let me know.

This week is all about the future. In the upcoming year, I'm scheduled to attend three writing seminars: Superstars Writing Seminar - Colorado - May; ThrillerFest - NYC - July; and World Fantasy (WFC)- Brighton, England - October. I may try to sneak down to DragonCon or up to Balticon (more likely) since they are relatively close to me, but family, workload, time and money will dictate whether I make those two. WFC will mark the fourth time I've been out of the United States, and the first time my kids will leave the country. Come the fall, my oldest will start high school. How in the world did that happen?

My goal is to finish the current WIP this month, with a submission to my publisher in March. I've committed to writing 50,000 words on a new story in the next four months. I need to have this one completed and ready for submission by ThrillerFest (July). I also want to finish the re-write of the novel I took to Dave Farland's Novel ReWriting workshop by the end of February, with submissions starting in May.

Then, of course, there's the family time. I also want to spend more time at the pool with the kids and get my garden planted this year. Last year I managed to get the garden beds ready for planting, but changes in my law practice ate up all my "free" time this past summer. 

Speaking of my law practice, I need to finish setting up my new office in Fairfax. I want to grow that law practice in 2013 to the point where I can justify having a full time associate (junior lawyer) or paralegal.

So, 2013 looks to be as busy as 2012, and that's just the stuff I know about. I can't wait to see what 2013 holds. I hope you join me for the ride.