Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Authorsday: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

  1. How did you pick the genre you write in? Blame it on my brother-in-law, Scott Miller, Sr., Esquire. I lived with him and my sister one summer and didn’t have the regular access to the library that I did when I was at home. All they had in the house was law books, nursing books, and science fiction and fantasy. Before that I used to jump around all over the place in the types of books I read. After that, almost exclusively fantasy and sci fi. Given that, no surprise that is what I ended up writing. Of course, my high school English teacher, Gene Miller (no relation) had a little to do with it also. He was big on mythology (or maybe the curriculum was that year) and I loved playing with theories of how the myths developed, which helped train my mind to devise fantastic themes in my writing.

  1. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? Oh, I’m definitely a pantser. No patience for an outline, and when I have written—or tried to write—one, it is almost always obsolete in short order. I rather have the story and the characters direct where the book is going, there is more life in it that way.

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it? Yesterday’s Dreams, and not only did I try and publish it, I succeeded…twice! Now granted, the first publisher wasn’t a very good one, but it did get me started on this journey, so I can’t complain too much. But only because I was lucky. I should have done more research rather than taking the first deal to come along. Still…live is all about learning, and I’ve certainly done that! Yesterday’s Dreams is currently with Mundania Press.

  1. How many rejections have you received? You know…I don’t count rejections. Seems counterproductive to me. It certainly wouldn’t encourage me to go on to know how many people didn’t like what I write. To me the only importance a rejection has is that it lets me know it’s time to send the story somewhere else.

  1. If you have a day job, what is it? I’m a masochist… I work in publishing. You know what that means? I get to work twice as hard for half the pay nearly sixteen hours a day. Had a teacher try and warn me away from working in publishing. I told him I wasn’t doing it for the money, I was doing it because I loved books. I still do…but man, what I wouldn’t give for more than a little bit of money now and then!

  1. Describe your book. That’s a trick question, right? Sorry…I have three novels, one writers’ guide, and I’ve lost count of the anthologies. I’ll tell you about the most recent, shall I? That would be The Literary Handyman: Tips on Writing from Someone Who’s Been There. It’s a departure from my fiction in that it is usable by those who write genre and those that do not, though I do use genre references and some of the essays (chapters) are specifically about genre topics. Overall, though, it is a series of essays written in a conversational, and some say, witty tone. Basically what I have learned over sixteen years working in publishing, ten of which have been as a published author. What I am most proud of with this book is that it isn’t a how-to, but rather advice that the writer can apply to their own style. Also, it is on both the craft and the business of writing, which most guides don’t generally cover. Included as a bonus are a series of about ten writing exercises I have used in various workshops over the years that help the writer to apply the advice to their writing.

  1. What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Mostly I enjoyed that it was so easy to write! When I am writing about…well…writing, it comes very easy to me. It really is a conversation and so I can relax and joke and still share what I have come to understand about this often frustrating business. If I can make things just a little bit easier for someone just getting started, I’m happy.

  1. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing? Characterization and imagery, definitely. My stories and novels tend to be character-driven and my writing style lyrical. I believe very much in engaging all of the senses at one point or another so most of my stuff has a bit more detail than you might expect, but not at the expense of pacing. Dialogue would have to be my other strength…not sure why, but it has always come naturally to me, which is ironic given that I kept to myself a lot growing up.

  1. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go? With the exception of Ireland, I haven’t really been anywhere so it would be difficult to find a place I wouldn’t want to go to. However, I particularly would enjoy going to Australia because it is so very different than my own environment and the culture is rich and interesting. Now there is a mythology I would love to explore close up! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I have several friends that live there that I’ve never met face-to-face…that would be nice as well!

  1. Who is your favorite character in your book? Well, no characters in The Literary Handyman (unless you count me) but I have two favorites from my novels. In both Yesterday’s Dreams and Tomorrow’s Memories it is the character Beag Scath, a pixie with a very mischievous personality and endearing mannerisms. One of the reasons he is my favorite is that he appeared on the page with little help from me, his personality is his own and I merely uncover it. The other favorite character I have is Smear from The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale and he is notable to me because he is so much fun to write. He is a road gremlin and as with many faerie legends, he resembles his environment, blending in until you would scarcely know he was there…until he wanted you to. Now, he isn’t a nice character, but he is very distinct and as individual in his own way as Beag Scath is…which ironic because there can be millions of tiny Smears, or one big one, all the same entity.

Author Bio

Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over sixteen years. Her works include Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman. She edited the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the NJ Authors Network, and Broad Universe. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more, visit or 

Book Blurb

Success in publishing is equal parts skill, determination, knowledge, and pure, dumb luck. If you have the drive, and you have the skill, but you're missing that little bit of insight into the industry, this book might just be the edge you're looking for.

(For the're on your own.)

Crack the cover to learn more about effective dialogue, the difference between the major publishers and small press, self-promoting, naming characters, avoiding procrastination... and so many other demons that haunt the aspiring author.

Also includes a series of writing exercises to help you to apply the information gained in the book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Special Guest: Jennifer Etherton of Jennifer Etherton Literary Services

The Secrets to Finding and Retaining the Right Agent

In today’s industry, an author can only go so far on his or her own. Eventually you will need to seek representation to reach the highest levels. In order to attract an agent there are several steps you will need to follow to be successful. It is also important to remember that it is not enough to follow the right steps; you will also need to learn the secrets to making yourself the best candidate in a stack of submissions.

The first thing that any author needs to realize is that you will need to have the right credits to attract a good agent. It is very rare that any author will be signed with a literary agency without first proving his or herself. The most ideal situation is being previously published through a house in the secondary markets and having solid sales to prove your marketability, short of having this it is still important to have a good published history. This history could include blog posts, anything published on the internet in the form of articles for ezines or other reputable publications, and anything in print is a definite plus. You want to build a solid portfolio to present to an agent. It also helps to have awards to show that you have been recognized by your peers as being worthy of this industry.

Once you have your portfolio in place, it is then important to decide where you want your writing to take you. Do you own research into the market and decide where you would like to fit. Write down your goals and be open to all criticism as to how to get there. While you will not always take all the advice you are given, seriously considering criticism, especially if it comes from an industry insider will help you grow in your craft.

Now that most of the prep work is done it is time to look for an agent. Here is where the real work begins. It is always best to start with a database that will prescreen the agencies in their list; the two best are The Writer’s Market and Literary Market Place. Pick several different agencies that are available and do additional research on each one individually. Be sure that you would be happy with every agency you query instead of waiting until an agent offers you a contract before you do your due diligence. Being lazy in the research stage does not paint you in the best light and could cost you in the end.

When you are ready to query an agent, it is important to follow their submission guidelines exactly. Never give the agent more or less than he or she requests. Agents are very busy individuals and not having the right material for a submission usually leads in an automatic rejection. Those who do not automatically reject any queries that do not meet the guidelines still look at the author in a negative light. To avoid this, be sure that you understand and follow all guidelines exactly while you are seeking representation.

After you have queried many agents there is not much left to do but wait. Some will specifically ask that perspective clients not call to check for updates and if the website makes this request it is important to follow, otherwise if you haven’t heard anything after 3 months check on your submissions status.

If you are contacted by, an agent it is important always put your best foot forward, but do not go overboard. Do not attempt to impress your agent with the people you know, because chances are that it will only make you look like a fool. Again, agents are very busy people and he or she is more concerned with you as an individual and as an artist then who you know. There are several things that the agent is looking for, but it really all comes down to your workability. He or she is trying to decide if you will work with editors well and are able to take constructive criticism

This conversation is not the best place to argue with the agent if he or she tells you that your work is not marketable as is. The very fact that he or she is contacting you is because with a little work you would have a sellable product. Never site major named authors as examples of why you think the agent is wrong, especially if the example is Hemingway or Faulkner. Chances are the response you will get is “you are not him and he doesn’t live in today’s market.”

This first contact before a contract is offered is one of the most crucial times. No agent wants to be stuck with an author with a huge ego, especially if the author is new to the industry. Always put your best foot forward and prove that you are willing to work as hard as necessary to make this relationship a success.

The biggest secret to discover when it comes to attracting the best agent is to just be yourself. It is almost impossible to impress an agent off the page so let your talent speak for itself and let your true personality shine. An agent is in the unique position to look at the entire package, if you prove workable and talented you will be snatched up quickly. On the other hand, if you are talented but difficult you are not only wasting your time but everyone else’s until the ego becomes under control.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today's Guest is Roseanne Dowell

My characters, Christine Rollins from A Second Chance and Elizabeth Ashley from May I Have this Dance insisted on interviewing each other. I hope you enjoy it.
E: So, Christine, tell me a little about yourself.
C: Well, I’m a fifty-eight year old divorcee and mother of two. Problem is my daughter, who lives next door to me, and my friends insist on fixing me up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who is widowed or divorced.
E: Aren’t kids great. Why is it everyone thinks we need a man in our lives to be happy?

Good question. So tell me about you?
E: I’m a sixty year old widow with one child. Fortunately, she hasn’t tried to fix me up with anyone. I think I made it pretty clear I wasn’t interested.
C: I’m sorry to hear that.
E: Oh don’t be. I lost the love of my life forty-two years ago. I should never have married Harry. So, tell me how you spend your time.
C: I work as a school secretary and fill my evenings with college courses. I was quite content until my son in law’s uncle arrived in town. There I was minding my own business coming home from visiting my son in Florida, and this drop dead gorgeous guy appears at the airport with my daughter and grandchildren.
E: I’m all ears. Do tell.
C: laughs and rolls her eyes. You’re as bad as my daughter. Okay, so he’s handsome and sexy. Lord, I thought I was past that, but this guy woke something in me that I didn’t know was sleeping. Heck, something I didn’t know existed.
E: He sounds fabulous.
C: Oh he is. Not only is he handsome, he’s the kindest, sweetest, most attentive man I’ve ever met.
E: So what happened?
C: My ex came back and asked for a second chance. After two years living with some bimbo. Okay, she wasn’t a bimbo, she was his dental assistant, but still. She was only half his age. Younger than our daughter. Then suddenly there he was standing in my kitchen, begging for another chance. He never begged. Do you have any idea how I longed to hear those words?
E: Did you take him back?

C: Now if I told you that, I’d give away the whole story. But you can find out in my book A Second Chance available from MuseItUp Publishing at:
So tell me about the love of your life, Elizabeth. What do you mean you lost him forty-two years ago?
E: Wow, where to start. I guess at the beginning. I met Danny Sullivan in 1955, my coming out year. We were spending the summer at our cottage like we usually did. I was thinking about the fist ball and suddenly there he was. He was so dreamy. I fell instantly in love. Problem was my father didn’t approve of him.
C: Why not?
E: He didn’t come from the right stock. My father’s words not mine.
C: The right stock?
E: Yes, we were wealthy and my father was very old fashioned and strict. I swear he should have been born in the Victorian Era. Unfortunately Danny didn’t come from money.
C: So did Danny work at Lakeview?
E: No his mother passed away and his Godmother, Mrs. James – a very influential woman in Lakeview – took him under her wing and invited him to spend the summer.
C: So what happened?
E: Danny and I hit it off, much to my father’s chagrin and the other parents delight. No one bucks Mrs. James. So needless to say, although my father forbid me from seeing Danny in private – he’d never say anything in public and risk making a scene. So I ignored him. It bothered Danny how some of the older residents treated him. The kids were pretty cool. At least most of them.
C: Wow, you really went against your father.
E: Yeah, until Danny asked me to marry him.
C: What happened then?
E: If I tell you, I’ll spoil the book. You can read about it in May I Have this Dance available from MuseItUp Publishing in July.

Blurb and Excerpt from A Second Chance
Fifty-eight year old, Christine’s family and friends are always trying to play matchmaker, much to her chagrin. When she returns home from a vacation over the Christmas holiday, her daughter introduces her to a sexy, handsome, man. A man, she’s much too attracted to. One she tries to resist, but eventually gives in, and begins to see him on a regular basis. At least she does until her ex husband appears on the scene and wants a second chance at their marriage. 


Steven’s rough hand covered hers, igniting smoldering sparks, starting in the pit of her stomach. Christine groaned inwardly and pulled her hand away, trying to ignore him. Not normally a rude person, but something about him invited it. He annoyed her. His magnetism made her uncomfortable. She hadn’t reacted to a man like this since Tony, and that ended in disaster.
Instead, she focused her attention on Jenna and Richard. “I sure have missed you two.”
She looked at her grandchildren and avoided Steven’s eyes. Seeing the sign for baggage claim, she headed toward it. “Let’s go. I can’t wait to get home.”
“Can we stop for dinner?” Jenna hooked her arm through Christine’s. Her long blond hair bounced as she kept up the rapid pace Christine set, leaving all but Steven lagging behind.
Christine threw him a sullen look. He lifted an eyebrow and winked at her through long dark lashes. Great, she amused him. Who did he think he was, God’s gift to women? A bit arrogant…but so darn good looking. Stop it, she told herself. She was acting like a fool, why was she letting this man get to her?
“You’re hungry too, aren’t you, Uncle Steve?” Jenna’s voice broke Christine’s thoughts and drew Steven into the conversation as Jenna linked her other arm through his.
Something about her granddaughter’s tone aroused Christine’s suspicions. This sounded like a setup. Playing matchmaker again. Her family and friends had been trying to match her up since Tony divorced her two years ago.
Christine’s stomach growled, reminding her she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. “I suppose we can stop for dinner.” Besides, a restaurant held more appeal than the confines of Lisa’s kitchen with Uncle Steve nearby. If they didn’t stop for dinner, Lisa would expect to fix something.
At the restaurant, Steven held Christine’s chair out before sitting opposite her. Still too close for comfort at the small table. Curious about him, she glanced over the top of her menu. She caught his laughing eyes staring at her. He winked, and she pulled the menu up to hide the blush she knew crept into her cheeks. What drew her to this man?
“Uncle Steve just moved back from New Zealand,” Lisa explained. “Derek and I insisted he stay with us.”
Unsure how to reply, Christine just nodded. Now she knew something was fishy in
Denmark. Lisa had tried to set her up with Derek’s business associates and just about every widower, divorced, or single man she met.
“Uncle Steve’s a confirmed bachelor.” Richard announced loud enough that people from other tables looked at them and smiled.
“Oh...” Christine couldn’t resist this one. “How have you managed to remain single all these years?” So, they were matchmaking again. Well, Mr. Payton, you won’t be single much longer if Lisa has her way. Christine shuddered at the thought. And neither would she. Something told her she was treading on thin ice here. Too darn attractive for his own good, the type of man to break women’s hearts and walk away. Once was enough for her, thank you very much.
“Never found the woman of my dreams.” Steven leaned back and rocked in his chair.
“And I guess I never found a woman with enough patience to put up with me.” He straightened, reached across the table, patted her hand, and grinned.
“And, why haven’t we met you before now?” Christine pulled her hand away and put it on her lap out of his reach. “I thought I met all of Derek’s relatives.”
“I haven’t been back to the states much since my parents passed away, about twenty
years ago. And my job prevented much travel.” His eyes locked on hers as he spoke. “Derek and his mother are the only relatives I have left.”
Christine mumbled an apology and turned her attention to Jenna and Richard. “So what have you two been doing during the holiday break? Skiing, skating?”
Jenna and Richard chattered the rest of the meal, and Christine relaxed and enjoyed them, but she couldn’t keep her gaze from straying to Steven. Of course, sitting across the table from him made it difficult to not look at him. But did she have to openly stare?
Grateful she made it through dinner, and uncomfortable with the feelings Steven stirred
in her, she stood to go. When they reached the car, Lisa handed the keys to her uncle. “You drive, and Mom, you sit in front, and I’ll sit in back with the kids.”
Oh you are clever, Lisa, Christine thought. She would have protested but knew it wouldn’t do any good. Good thing the drive home only took ten minutes. She couldn’t believe Lisa was being so obvious about this. Fortunately, Richard and Jenna were still in a talkative mood, and the ride home passed quickly.
Steven pulled the car into her drive, put it in gear, popped the trunk, and got out. He grabbed her luggage and had it halfway to the door before Christine could protest.
Irritated with his attitude, she followed. He’s sure taking liberties. Who does he think he is? She could handle her own luggage. He’s arrogant and too good looking for his own good. Oh stop it, Christine, she admonished, he’s being helpful, a gentleman, that’s all. What made her think he was interested in her anyway? Like she was so special. He probably acted the same way with all women. With his good looks, she doubted he lacked female companions.
He stopped at the door and waited for her. When he took the key from her hand, opened the door, reached inside, and flipped on a light, a warm sensation began in her stomach, and spread outward as he looked down at her.
Something told her this man was dangerous territory. “Thank you.” Christine’s insides trembled. She hoped her voice sounded calm. Holding her hand out for the key, she wished him away.
“Dinner tomorrow.” He said it as a statement not a question.
She felt her eyes narrow. A habit she never managed to break when someone irked her.
How dare he be so presumptuous? “Sorry, I’m busy.” Closing the door halfway against him, she tried to hide behind it.
He reached up, and combed his fingers through her short blond hair. The small gesture electrified her. She backed away. He chuckled, winked at her, and pulled the door closed behind him.
Darn it all, why was she acting like a silly teenager who had a crush on the football captain? Infuriated at the feelings he instilled in her, she leaned against the door. Her body trembled. From anger or attraction, she wasn’t sure. Christine shook her head, trying to clear it.
Exhausted from her trip, Christine went to bed, trying to erase Steven from her mind. She closed her eyes and visions of his laughing eyes appeared. She turned the pillow, punched it, and closed her eyes again, willing herself to sleep. Darn it, why did that man affect her like this? She tossed and turned through a dream-filled night.

Blurb and Excerpt from May I Have this Dance
Returning to a summer resort in 1997, Elizabeth Ashley sits in the gazebo watching her granddaughter and a young man who reminds her so much of her first love. She fell in love with a boy her stern father didn’t approve of. One who didn’t come from the “right stock” as he put it. Her memory takes her back to 1955. Back to a time when life was fun and she was full of life.

Excerpt from May I Have this Dance
Elizabeth watched a young man chase her granddaughter through the water, while enjoying the coolness of the shaded gazebo and relishing the gentle breeze. So much like that day so long ago. June 4th 1955, the day forever etched in her memory. Only the splash of the water and sound of gulls broke the silence. The scene brought back a memory so vivid—it could have been yesterday instead of forty-two years ago. Elizabeth pushed her silver-streaked hair from her face, leaned back, closed her eyes, and remembered that summer. A summer when she was young and carefree like her granddaughter.
                                         * * * *
Swaying to imaginary music, Elizabeth held her sundress out to the side and imagined the long flowing gown she’d wear at the ball. Bowing and smiling at an invisible partner, she twirled around the pavilion. Her long dark hair fell forward, covering her face. Tossing it back, Elizabeth laughed aloud and batted her long lashes, pretending to flirt.
“May I have this dance?” A masculine voice startled her into awareness.
Heat burned her cheeks. Embarrassed, Elizabeth turned and ran.
 “Hey, wait.” He ran after her, caught up, and grabbed her arm. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Elizabeth stopped, the light pressure of his grip sent a tingling sensation through her, igniting sparks deep inside her. Gathering her composure, she remembered her manners. “Are you new to Lakeview?” Her gaze caught his blue-green eyes and locked.
“Just arrived.” A smile twitched on his lips, as if he wanted to laugh but thought better of it. “Never been to a resort before. I’m staying with my aunt, Melissa James, maybe you know her?”
“Oh, Mrs. James, of course, you’re the nephew. I’m Elizabeth Ashley.” She extended her hand. “Do you live in Ohio?”
“Cleveland, matter of fact. But I’ll be working in New York come fall. How about you?” He took her hand and raised it to his mouth, in an old-fashioned gesture. His gaze never left hers as his lips brushed slowly across the top of her hand. “I’m Danny Sullivan, by the way.” A mischievous gleam twinkled in his eyes.
“Uh…” Pulling her hand away, she tucked it behind her, trying to cool the heat that coursed from her hand through her body. “I have to go.” Elizabeth twisted her hands behind her back, her usual calm reserve shaken. No one had ever caused a reaction in her like this. Her head spun. Her stomach felt like a million butterflies fluttered in it, and her heart throbbed so loud she knew he could hear it.
“Can I see you later?” He matched her quick strides. “Where do you live? I’ll walk you home.”
Elizabeth stared up at him. Lord, he must be six feet tall. She only came to his chest. “No, I mean, uh, I’ll see you around.” She raced off, leaving him to stare after her.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth danced into her room, dreamy eyed. Usually she hated the white, ruffled curtains at the window and the pink bedspread, but not today. Today, it didn’t even bother her that her sister picked everything out for the room. Talk about luck. She had to be one of the first to meet Mrs. James’s nephew. Danny Sullivan. Mrs. Danny Sullivan. Loving the sound of it, silly as it was, she couldn’t help herself. She was in love. Bouncing onto the bed, where her sister laid reading, Elizabeth pulled her knees up to her chest, circled her arms around them and rocked. Sighing loudly, she inhaled the scent of Lily of the Valley perfume, lingering from the morning.
 “Do you have to jump on the bed like that?” Susan slammed her book closed. “If you want to talk to me, why can’t you be like normal people and say so, without trying to get my attention first?”
“Oh, Suse,” Elizabeth ignored her sister’s irritation. “I met the most handsome man. He’s tall with hair the color of an old rusty pail and eyes the shade of sea foam.” Elizabeth stood up and danced around the sun-filled room. “I think I’m in love.”
“You’re always in love. Who is he this time?” Susan set her book aside. “I thought we knew everyone here.”
“His name is Danny Sullivan, Mrs. James’s nephew. Remember, she mentioned him the other night? He’s older and he kissed my hand and called me Beth.” Elizabeth paused for a breath. “No one has ever called me that.” Elizabeth hugged herself and continued to dance. “I can’t wait to see him again. I hope he’s at the ball tomorrow. Maybe he’ll dance with me.”
“Will you be still already and quit babbling.” Susan sat up, her slender body in perfect posture. The two sisters were as different as night and day. Susan, tall, blond, serious, like their father, while Elizabeth, impulsive, petite, and dark haired, favored their deceased mother.
 “Father isn’t going to like this, Liz. You know how he feels about outsiders.”
“Oh quit being such a square! Wait till you see him, Susie. He’s so dreamy.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Why couldn’t her sister be on her side, just once? “Besides, Father doesn’t like anyone, you know how he is.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Authorsday: Julie Auna

1.      When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I became serious about my writing in 1971. My first enjoyment of writing began in 1955 while I attended the ninth grade at Elkhart Junior High in Indiana. After writing five novels for my own enjoyment, it took a granddaughter to tell me my stories were worth publishing; that was in 2010.

2.      How did you pick the genre your write in?

I knew nothing about a genre until 2010. No one, except me, read anything I ever wrote until 2010, I never once considered publishing my hobby.

3.      Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Everything I write has preplanned first chapter and last chapter. Everything in between is generalized in my mind. I have the background or backdrop sketched out then I do the page-by-page fill-in.

4.      What drew you to the subject of Sisters-Six and One to Grow On?

I was lucky enough or some might say cursed to have five living sisters. I am one of twelve siblings. We are all of the age to retire. I worked for 48 years as a cosmetologist, kept a record of all the funny things that happened to my clientele. My sisters and I fit so many of the stories it was easy to place us in a soft mystery for the first book in the series. I hope to write 3 or 4 more. I have enough material.

5.      What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Write, rewrite, rewrite, and be prepared to rewrite some more. I rewrote Sisters-Six and One to Grow On six times.

6.      What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?

To use a ghostwriter. I didn’t know it at that time.

7.      Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

To wait on the line of command it takes to publish a book these days is way to long for someone who is 72 years old. I am reworking four novels and hope to have them ready in 2012. CreateSpace has been very good to me, but I am responsive to inquiries from other publishers.

8.      If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

Is my writing worth reading? Did you laugh out loud on one page then shed a tear on the next?

9.      Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know.

I love classical music, the old composers and my favorite musical instrument is the piano. My favorite piano players are Richard Clayerman and Van Cliburn.

10.  Describe your book.

A story about six old sisters who decide to live out the rest of their days on Kettering Wood Plantation. They are a diverse bunch, strong willed, and hysterically funny. A pet schnauzer, Spats, and his sidekick, a goat, is an odd combination that rides a whirlwind of calamity and adventure for the six dear souls.

Refurbishing the French influenced mansion and cottages bring the sisters to a hands on mystery as they unveil left behind memorabilia belonging to Sir Charles LaTurrell, stolen and brought to America to cover up his profitable, but illegal business. It is done in good taste and pleasing to the reader.


On the passing of the last brother-in-law, the six rowdy, retired sisters find themselves on a merry-go-round mystery surrounding their purchase of Kettering Wood Plantation. The deceased architect Sir Charles LaTurrell’s bloody deeds and stolen memorabilia opens a Pandora’s Box taking the six to Washington D.C. then onto Paris, France.

Spats, a pet schnauzer, and his co-conspirator Buford, a goat, add hysteria to the puzzle ridden lives of the sisters. The climatic events bring the sisters face to face with the mysterious Helanna.

Author’s Bio:

Born in Higgins, Texas, Julie Áuna grew up in Elkhart, Indiana. Married her husband, Carl and they were blessed with three sons. Julie chose cosmetology as a lifelong career. This vocation set the stage for many stories.

In the late sixties, Julie Áuna and her family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. She decided to take a beginners computer course at National Park Community College, in the mid-nineties, which encouraged her second venture, a class in creative writing and she was hooked.

Her first love after her God and family is penning fiction. For her writing is like a heartbeat it makes all her tomorrows worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Authorsday: Rhonda Carver

Welcome Rhonda!

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Since I was thirteen. I read my first novel and I was stuck.
  2. How did you pick the genre you write in? I am a romantic at heart so it’s only fitting I create tales of love and happiness.
  3. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? I write by the seat of my pants. If I’m sitting at a restaurant, driving down the road, or even sitting at the doc’s office and I get a storyline idea, I’ll grab anything to jot down the idea. Napkins, gum wrappers, even on a cardboard box once. I do mean anything. But most of the time, my first word to a story is on the laptop.
  4. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew? That I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. Does every other writer have a grandeur personality until they’re shot down a few times? I blush with the mere thought of how good I thought I was and how bad I actually was.
  5. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know? My first three books that I wrote were written at night underneath a blanket, with a flashlight after the kids were in bed. And I wrote each one by hand, for a total of about 30 thick, paper notebooks. This was pre-laptop. Now, I couldn’t live without it.
  6. If you have a day job, what is it? I am a freelance editor “on the side.”
  7. What’s your writing schedule? I write everyday. It is a fix for me. I spend at least four hours a day writing, and another hour marketing.
  8. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go? Bora Bora.
  9. What’s your favorite food? Chocolate. I crave it, especially when I’ve put in a lot of writing time.
  10. What do you do when you are not writing? I spend time with my wee ones. We love to hang out watching movies, riding bikes…anything to keep them from arguing with each other. LOL.

Author Bio: Rhonda enjoys writing contemporary, paranormal, suspense, and erotica.  Her specialty is bad-ass and smart and sassy heroines. And her favorite subject is…men in military uniform. They make the perfect hero.

Her talent of bringing interesting characters to print and shaping happy endings are not only a passion of hers, but a dream career. She thinks the love between hero and heroine should be so steamy that it melts the ink off the pages.

If she’s not at her computer crafting a story, Rhonda enjoys reading romance, hanging out with her loved ones, or watching a movie that either pushes her to tears or has her rolling with laughter…and preferably both. 

She believes everyone deserves romance in their life—one page at a time.

Book Blurb:Second Chance Cowboy excerpt:

Carly squeezed her hands into fists. “My poor husband. How difficult it is for him to manage his inflated ego and keep his zipper closed.”

“We’re divorced, remember?” His voice reeked of sarcasm.

She groaned in irritation. Her pulse pounded in her ears like the beating of a drum. Her claws were showing.

Chance didn’t blink an eye as he gazed at her across the room. “Honey, I can keep my pants zipped just fine. Problem is, you can’t keep your fingers off my zipper.”

Carly’s palm itched to slap him. “We live in a small town, Chance. How do you think it’s possible we haven’t run into each other more than three times in the last two years?” She cocked her chin. “Let me fill you in. I’ve done everything in my power to keep from bumping into you. Do you realize how difficult it is to plan my schedule weeks in advance so I don’t have to see you? Is that a description of a woman who can’t keep her fingers off your zipper?”

Friday, June 3, 2011

Authorsday: Harry Ramble

This is a day late and Harry is a gracious guest for understanding.

Many thanks to Chris for inviting me onto her blog page. It’s very nice here. I feel like the cool JV kid riding in the back of the bus with the varsity squad to the away game. I hope I don’t say anything dumb and ruin it. (Chris here: That’s sweet!)

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I learned to read, really. Although I haven’t always wanted to write. Sometimes I don’t write at all. I’ve written some books. But I’m not one of those “process” guys who writes every day from 10am to 1pm. I try to write only when I absolutely HAVE to write something. When it’s an urgent need. Otherwise, I’m content to collect ideas and chew on them for a while. Years, if need be.

What drew you to the subject matter of THE END IS NEAR?

THE END IS NEAR starts with the idea of bullying. I was a kid once and I’m a parent now, so I’ve seen my share of it. As a boy, I’m ashamed to say, I wasn’t always on the receiving end of it, either. Bullying is a lot of things. It’s damaging; it’s antisocial behavior. It’s illegal in 46 states. (Not in South Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, and Minnesota, in case you’re wondering.) It’s also a type of relationship—an incredibly intense, destructive relationship. We forget all kinds of people in our lives. Friends. Lovers. Co-workers. But you never forget that guy who sadistically tormented you in fifth grade. That stays with you.

This is Nathan Huffnagle’s problem. He’s a stopped clock. A traumatic experience in his past (or a series of traumatic experiences) has arrested his growth. He’s one of those guys who’s just holed up inside his own life, refusing to engage with the outside world. One day, around his 45th birthday, as he’s closing up the family house to sell it after his mother’s death, he encounters his old arch-nemesis, Randy Trent, by chance. Nathan’s at a weird moment in his life because he’s decided to kill himself in a week’s time. So Nathan’s next idea is entirely predictable. He decides to take Randy Trent with him. There’s a lot more to the book, of course. There are angelic interventions and emissaries from Death. There’s a romantic triangle and some witchcraft and several different varieties of mid-life crisis. But that’s where it starts. Bullying and an elaborate murder-suicide scheme.

THE END IS NEAR has an unusual flow, going back and forth from present to past in alternating chapters. Why did you choose that particular narrative strategy?

The book, in its largest sense, is a dark comedy about how our cherished grievances and justifications don’t ever quite match up correctly with the realities of our lives. The story opens with Nathan in a hospital bed. His last act—a proper revenge upon his childhood nemesis—had deteriorated into a farcical hostage standoff beset by a media circus, a romantic rivalry among his captives, and the undeniable reality that Randy Trent, a vicious thug and bully twenty-five years before, has grown up to become a man too humble, too good, too exasperatingly decent to kill. That’s when Nathan attempts suicide.

When he wakes up, six weeks later, he’s receiving this series of seemingly angelic visitors. Flight attendants, nuns, waitresses, ad copywriters—all sent by the Big Angel himself, the Angel of Death. And he’s been given an assignment. In order to be released from life, he must write a new suicide journal on the backs of the pages of a court transcript of his previous suicide journal. This time, though, he has to tell the truth, the painful and possibly liberating truths he was forced to confront about himself during the hostage situation. So THE END IS NEAR is comprised of two journals, each commenting wryly on the other, each generating its own suspense, and, I hope, each leading to a surprising conclusion.

You would think you’d always be stepping all over yourself in such a format, but the truth is, it facilitates a lot of illuminating connections between past and present. And that’s what the book is about, too. About how we grow and change over time. Even Nathan. He may be a stopped clock, but the act of trying to gain revenge represents a first re-engagement with life for him. So he learns a lot of things. And, in some ways, comes to terms with the past finally and gains a measure of solace. There’s an electricity, a forward momentum, in the juxtaposition of events that’s the engine of the book.

What do you consider your greatest weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

You know that guy who says, “I’m good with faces”? Well, I’m not that guy. I’m funny with people. With their appearances, specifically. A lot of people look the same to me. I really have to talk to someone four or five times before I can confidently attach a name to a face. As a result, I’m the king of the general, all-purpose greeting. “Hey! How ya doing?” In fiction, you really can’t settle for fuzzy, generalized descriptions of people. People are tall; people are short. They smile a lot; they don’t. In fiction, that stuff doesn’t cut it. You have to get in there and nail it with fresh imagery and details. On the other hand, you don’t want to drone on and on about it. You’ve got to be concise. John Updike, I’ve always felt, was the master of this. He could paint characters in three dimensions with just a few deft strokes. Descriptions of peoples’ appearances are something I have to work on diligently to get right. In my last edits of a book, that’s what I’m usually working on. Someday, I want to write a reference book for writers, “What People Look Like.” It’ll be like a thesaurus of descriptions of physical characteristics. It will sell better than these novels I’m writing.

What was the worst advice you ever got? Did you know it at the time?

“Sure it seems a little expensive right now, but believe me, this deluxe book trailer/query writing seminar/literary agent hypnosis technique will pay for itself in no time!”

WHAT ... is your favorite color?

Blue. No! Green! Aieeeeee!

What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

Apologies to anyone who’s already used the “Three Questions at the Bridge of Death” gag from Monty Python and the Holy Grail here on AuthorsDay. Anyway. What would I like to learn? How to talk about my books in a coherent and productive way. I hate talking about my books. I like to just exist in the same room with them, observing them through indirection the way a cat will monitor the progress of a doomed mouse across the lawn without ever actually staring directly at it. I don’t want to spook it, you know? Which makes me pretty much the worst marketing person ever. If anyone out there has written a novel and wants to keep it a secret, you should add me to your marketing team.

What’s your next book about?

It’s called ZOO MONDAY and it’s something I’ve had kicking around for a while.
It’s about a teenager who achieves a kind of notoriety for a murder he didn’t commit, and the anarchic death cult that grows up around him. There were a lot of almost magical aspects to the original drafts of this novel, a kind of wildfire communication across social and class divides as well as a rapid snowballing of events, that some readers wouldn’t fully accept. Most of these difficulties have been laid to rest in our new hyperspeed, socially networked world, and I was able to go back and add another whole level to the book. We live in an amazing age, one in which you can make a snarky comment on a popular blog at 3pm, go viral at 3:10, and see yourself featured on at 6pm. It’s exhilarating and dangerous.

Tell us one thing about yourself that very few people know.

I was Chris’s first guest author for AuthorsDay, back in early 2009. And let me say, things have certainly changed around here. Look at all this terrific content! Interviews and excerpts and important people stopping by. Two years ago, this blogspot was uncleared land all the way down to the river. A few thatched cyber-huts, “Hot Hunk Friday,” and a communal water trough. Not anymore. Now it’s first class all the way. The catering table in the Green Room here is incredible.


Author Bio:

Harry Ramble is the author of the novels SEX OFFENDER LIVES HERE (2008) and THE END IS NEAR (Dec, 2010), both from Ebb Press. Look for his next book, ZOO MONDAY, in May of 2012. Harry blogs at Harry Ramble’s E-Z Epiphany Dispenser ( and can also be found at and He lives at the Jersey Shore with his wife and two children.

Book Blurb for THE END IS NEAR:

"It was all for nothing. There's nothing to say."
On his forty-fifth birthday, as his hostages dozed fitfully and state police prepared to take him by force, Nathan Huffnagle penned nine last words into a journal recounting a remarkable week's worth of events. Then he placed the cold steel circle of a shotgun barrel beneath his chin, gripped the trigger, and pulled. And his life began again.
Nathan had hoped to pay back one injustice with another, and tip the scales back to even. But so few of us have a real talent for havoc and vengeance and violence. And our cherished grievances and justifications rarely match up so neatly with the realities of our lives. Now, frustrated at every turn and pestered by a series of seemingly angelic visitors, Nathan makes a hospital-bed deal with Death-the Big Guy himself. Will he receive the release he desires? Or a new lease on life?
The end is always near, but it's never too late to live.
Infused with humor and sadness, restless longing and regret, flights of fantasy and the sheer damnable contrariness of real life, THE END IS NEAR is a tale of redemption like none you've read before.