Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Power of Friends

Ever feel like you’re all alone? Like you have to do everything yourself? A lot of writers do, but that’s not my friend, Barbara M. Britton’s, experience. She’s a good friend and a gifted writer, who knows how important writing buddies, critique partners and being part of groups, chapters and organizations can be. Here’s what she has to say--

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first started writing was to join a professional organization. I am so glad that one of the first organizations I joined was RWA, Romance Writers of America, and subsequently I joined their local chapter WisRWA-Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. That’s where I met Mia many years ago. Yay!

I met my critique partner(CP). Betsy, through WisRWA and she has been my CP through four books now. Mia and several of my WisRWA pals made up my launch team for Providence. One lone person tweeting in today’s social media world just doesn’t cut it. You need a team of tweeters and Facebook sharers.

WisRWA was instrumental in my book deal. I received an e-mail from my fiend Liz S. (we have several Lizzes in WisRWA). She e-mailed me and wondered if I was doing Pitch Wars because an author wanted to mentor a pre-pubbed writer writing Bible-themed YA (Young Adult). I knew nothing about Pitch Wars. But Liz had my back and she knew what I wrote.
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program and I was chosen by New Adult author Molly Lee. Molly and I tweaked Providence, and it happened that Molly had another mentee who was an acquiring editor for Pelican Book Group. The rest they say is history. Pelican contracted my debut novel, and they contracted my second book which will be out this spring--“Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey.” So being involved in a professional writing organization has been a tremendous help to me.
I mentioned above that I was writing Bible-themed YA. That genre doesn’t actually exist. If you walk into the teen section of a bookstore, you won’t find any Bible characters there. Sad, but true. My novel was placed in Pelican’s adult line for action and adventure, Harbourlight Books. But I still tackle a first love, a first kiss, and dealing with parents. Here's the blurb--

As the sole daughter of the chief priest, Hannah is publicly shamed when the prophet of Israel refuses to heal her.
Determined to restore her family’s honor, Hannah escapes Jerusalem in hopes of finding the prophet and convincing him to heal her deformities. Gilead, a young Hebrew guard sympathetic to her plight, willingly accompanies her. On their way, they are captured by a band of raiders.
Hannah is forced to serve in the household of the commander of the Aramean army, an officer who is in need of healing himself. Meanwhile Gilead is being used as sword practice for the Aramean soldiers.
Hannah must act fast to save Gilead and herself. But survival means coaxing the prophet of Israel to heal an enemy commander.

Hannah’s story came from the Bible. I had finished teaching a chapel series on young people in the Bible who did brave things and I wondered what happened to the confident and outspoken servant girl in II Kings 5. The captured servant girl became my Hannah, and of course, I had to give her a love interest and a happily-ever-after.

I hope you enjoy my Biblical fiction as much as I enjoy writing it. Thanks for having me on your blog today Brenda. We have traveled this writing journey together for several years and now we both have books coming out. What a blessing!

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb kicks off her Tribes of Israel series in October with the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.” Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America.

If you'd like to find out more about Barb or her new release Providence, you can visit any of these links.
Book Trailer

If you'd like to purchase Providence, you can use these links. Amazon  B&N  or Pelican

Book of Yokai

Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
by Michael Dylan Foster

Those of you who know me know that I co-present a series of workshops looking at myths and legends around the world and how each changes depending on region (for those curious, it’s the “Silk Road and Beyond” workshops, looking at dragons, vampires, werewolves/shapeshifters, angels, demons, ghosts, bigfeet, and even faeries, with “The Seven Seas” entry looking at water myths and creatures). The challenge on occasion has been finding reliable sources of information that doesn’t dip into someone’s gaming lore or comics or some such, all of which are inspired by but doesn’t necessarily adhere to the traditional lore. Fortunately, between my co-presenter Jacquie Rogers and me, we managed to find clean sources.

And only after all those workshops we scrimped and scraped for data did I discover this work. Timing is everything, and I don’t got it! But just in case this can help you, I’ll tell you about Michael Dylan Foster’s book. According to his bio, Foster is an associate professor of East Asian folklore at Indiana University. So he’s got academic chops in the topic (and I am so jealous!). He observes that the Japanese tend to hold their myths and lore closer to their lives than other cultures do, part of their everyday lives, so that in itself shapes the culture.

Foster dives into detail about the differences between two similar examples of folklore, separated by regional differences; considering that Japan isn’t that big a country, it’s remarkable the variations you can suss out if you look, and Foster looks. If you find yourself forgetting the great variations of nature and culture, this book will give you a great big honking reminder. A fun read overall. Highly recommended!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It’s September. Soon leaves will lose their green and fall. It’s inevitable, possibly as inevitable as people falling in love. In observation of these miraculous occurrences, I’d like to share thirteen quotes.

1.You can’t blame gravity for falling in love. ~ Albert Einstein
2. The half-life of love is forever. ~Junot Diaz
3. We never get enough of falling in love and believing in love. ~ Shemar Moore
4. All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall. ~ Meghan O’ Rourke
5. This thing about you that you think is your flaw – it’s the reason I’m falling in love with you. ~ Colleen Hoover
6. You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast. ~ Catherynne M. Valente
7. Don’t you be so nice to me; I fall in love so easily. ~ Waylon Jennings
8. Nobody is perfect until you fall in love with them. ~ Unknown
9. Don’t fall in love; rise with it. ~ Amit Abraham
10. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~ Mignon McLaughlin
11. You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spirt of the fact they’re not. ~ Jodi Picoult
12. Never say love is “like” anything… it isn’t. ~ Michael Chabon
13. I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. ~ John Green

How would you describe falling in love? Do you have a favorite quote about it? Please share and Happy Fall!


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Organizing Your Story (and Your Life)

by Eilis Flynn
Recently, I finally picked up an appointment book after years of using a digital version, then printing out a copy of each month’s activity. Then about two years ago, for whatever reason (the wireless connection in my house has always been iffy, and the router finally died earlier this year), the printer became a solitary unit (that is, it wouldn’t connect with anything; it scans and copies, and so it will print as well, but only if I bothered to figure out where to insert a memory stick). I haven’t had a chance to figure out why; I hadn’t needed to use it, and when I need printouts, I went to the library one block away. (I’m not good with technology. Not uncomfortable, but it would take me a longer time to suss out the problem than I wanted to waste when I could have been working.) Of course, for a long time that worked fine. When I wanted something more than a few pages from the library printer, I could go to the Staples a mile away (and since I don’t have a car, I walk to, but again it has to be something I have to make sure I have an hour to waste walking there and walking home).

It’s getting to the point, though, that not having a printer is getting inconvenient. And because I don’t have a printout of my month’s goals, I was getting frustrated that I’d miss deadlines (like those for OtherWorld Diner) that I shouldn’t have. I kept telling myself I’d fix the connection or break down and call a repair guy (grr!), but I never have.

And I still haven’t. At least for the deadlines, now I have a little book made up of months, weeks, and pages on which to write notes. Just like I had...before the digital age. Like the big leather binder I still have on my desk, gathering dust. It’s shut and put in a safe place; I have no space on my desk for something that size.

My deadlines which are mine
Why hasn’t the whole “I have all the deadlines I need to remember on my laptop/phone/other device” worked for me? I had all those deadlines on my computer’s calendar, but I’d get a reminder and I’d say oh yeah I should get on that and that would be it. More often than not, the reminder would come up when I was working on a project and wasn’t at a point to work on it. With a binder of paper, small (mass market paperback size), I have it propped open to the proper month, with everything I have to do coming up not giving me a gentle reminder. No, in my own handwriting, scrawled, sometimes in CAPS. For me, that works.

I think of it in pretty much the same way authors—including me—have story binders. My life and work as a story, basically. This is particularly useful for those writing series and crucial for those writing fantasy and science fiction series. I’ve seen remarkably elaborate versions, in thick binders, color illustrations and maps, so the tiny details of a fictional world remain fresh. An organizer is the same thing for real-life folks. (And a great start for a story, come to think of it! You can see it, can’t you? “Dental appt 9am. Mktg meet 11am. Lunch/blind date 1 pm. Note: Pick up toothpaste.”)

I know someone who actually offers a service to build story binders for those who need to keep track of the details for a series. Doesn’t matter if it’s historical or fantastical or science fiction or small-town contemporary; she’ll keep all those details for you, and if you decide to insert a tiny detail, tell her and she’ll make sure she has it for you. Yessirree, it’s an organizer for your story! (If you’re curious about her service, ask me!)

Meanwhile, my life organizer is being populated by the day with projects, deadlines, workshops, and even appointments. And it works for me.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Daxen from Beautifully Burned is a combo of Sam and Dean Winchester -- Beautifully Burned -- A New Release Spotlight!

In case you didn’t know, I’m a humongous Supernatural fan, so of course I had to write a guest post that tied into one of my favorite all time shows. So this post is…

How Daxen from Beautifully Burned is a combo of Sam and Dean Winchester
1. Like Dean, Dax loves his pie. He won’t share, with the exception of using it to soften up his dreamcaster. He has a serious sweet tooth, and fair warning:  don’t let him near your maraschino cherry supply.

2. Dax has some book-nerdiness going on and hates it when people take his books without permission. Or destroy them without provocation. While he might not be a techie like Sam, he’s not afraid of some hard-core research.

3. Every Supernatural fan knows Sam and Dean can do a serious bromance. Once their loyalty is earned, you’re solid, but getting past the suspicion takes some hard labor. The Winchesters have nothing on Dax when it comes to distrust. Growing up in a world where abuse is the norm and backstabbing is expected can do that to a boy, and a side of growly going on isn’t surprising. Still, even the prickliest V’alkara can soften up for his dreamcaster, and anyone who messes with his inner circle should be ready for some big-time pain.

4. When it comes to fighting (with paranormal creatures or not), it’s team Sam and Dean all the way. The boys know how to use their weapons, and while the V’alkara don’t use spells, they have their own warfare specialties. Feeding off nightmares might not be the most relaxing way to survive, but taking on those same nightmare creature forms can come in handy at times…probably not if Sam and Dean happened to show up and, you know, mistake Dax for a true monster. That would be a bummer.

5. The Winchester boys have their issues. There are always kept secrets, yearnings for a different life of love and a family all their own, inferiority complexes, acceptance controversies…some major baggage. Dax isn’t any different. He wants a life he believes he can’t have, of love and acceptance. He’s emotionally damaged and fears those wounds won’t ever heal. If he thinks it’s best, he’ll keep secrets to protect the few people he cares about and sacrifice himself, no second thoughts. And just like Sam and Dean, he always chooses the hard way to learn life lessons. Sigh. Men—gotta love ‘em!

Are you a Supernatural fan? If not, what’s your favorite, must-watch show?

Hi, Mia here. I wanted you to get a taste C.J.Burright’s voice, so I put her post before introducing her. 
C.J. Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter, while she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or fantasy. C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes a story isn’t complete without at least one fight scene. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. She shares life with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.
I’m privileged to call her my critique partner and friend. She has a new release that just came out this week. I asked her to share a bit about it and she sent me what you’ve just read. 

In my opinion, she’s an awesome story-teller, but you don’t have to believe me, here’s an excerpt to prove it.

Five steps from her truck, Ella skidded to a stop. The sexy, sober book lover leaned against the fence a few yards away, as if he’d been there the whole time.
Her heart somersaulted twice. She might be tired, her thoughts preoccupied, but no way had he been there a second ago. Frick. He didn’t look like the type who scared easily and her nearest neighbor was two blocks away, so screaming would be pointless. With those long legs, he’d probably won some track medals, which nixed running for it. Her best bet was to get into her truck, lock the doors, and take off. Chin lifted high, she finished the short trek to her getaway wagon.
“I must speak with you.” Whether ordering a Shirley Temple or making soft, unexpected demands in a midnight parking lot, his gravelly voice was seductive as sin.
Her nerves tightened and she steadied her hands enough to jam the key in the lock. “Look, it’s late, I’m tired, and you decimated my maraschino cherry supply. Time to go home.”
He pushed off the fence and ambled toward her.
Ella struggled to turn the ancient lock. Stupid rust. “Bartender counselor sessions are closed until tomorrow. Sorry.”
“I have questions for you.” He leaned his hip near the tailgate, too close. “They won’t take long.”
“Oh, you’re a collection agent.” Thank God her voice remained cool and steady enough for the pretense. The truck lock finally gave with a loud snap. “Check’s in the mail.”
“I’m interested in your dreams, not your finances.”
A tremor coasted her spine and she paused, fingers wrapped around the door handle. No way was his dream comment random, but the press to escape dimmed beneath the desire to hear him out, to see if someone in the wide weird world had helpful information about her curse. A little chitchat never hurt anyone, and if he tried anything shady, she knew how to handle him. Her special self-defense was always ready.
She sucked in a breath. Without knowing when or how, he had moved closer, so close she had to crane her neck to look into his face. He smelled faintly of campfire smoke, a fond reminder of the frequent overnight hiking trips she used to take with Gran and Ginny. Back then, fire had made her feel warm and safe.
“A moment. Please.” He planted a hand on the door, keeping it shut and boxing her halfway with his arm. His ‘please’ sounded more like an attempt at manners than a request.
Curiosity warred with concern. If he wanted to attack her, he could’ve already sliced her, diced her, and left her for the stray dogs to gnaw on. What did he want to talk about? What words had the man who lured her mother away used? She wasn’t a mindless sheep, no matter how beautiful the wolf may be, but there was no denying this man did something witchy to her blood. She wanted to know why. Maybe that would set her questions to rest, ease her guilt, cure her curse.
But Ginny depended on her. She had to play it safe and get rid of him.
Ella shifted and rested her back against the truck door. He didn’t move, and a secret thrill coiled in her stomach. Ignoring it, she netted all her emotions and observations, pushed them to the back of her mind, and focused on his blue sea eyes.
“Go home,” she said in the hushed, haunting persuasion voice she used on drunks and perverts. “Forget me. Forget Dany’s exists. Never come here again.”
He went utterly still.
A bewildering stab of loss staked her chest. She’d never see him again. He’d go back to his life and she’d return to hers, no harm done, no questions answered. For some insane reason, she wanted to curl up on the asphalt and have a long, hard sob-fest.
A tiny crease formed between his black eyebrows, and instead of obeying, he studied her with a scientist’s concentration. “Are you trying to compel me?” His voice was gently accusing. He leaned nearer. “I’m V’alkara. I can’t be compelled.”
Ella leaned hard on the cool frame of her truck. Compel was a good explanation for her uncanny persuasion powers, and if he recognized it, getting rid of him would be harder than she thought. “Who are you?”
“Daxen v’al Solanis.” He watched her, unblinking.
“And V’alkara?” She swallowed the sawdust in her throat. Was that another word for vampire? “What’s that?”
“Me.” His small smile made a snarling wolf look friendly. “Ready to talk now?”
“You had all night to talk to me.”
“I wanted you alone.”
A fire bell warning clanged in her head, a command to escape, yet she couldn’t peel her attention from his jaw. Stubble shadowed the hard angles, a darkness contrary to his pale neck. She had a sharp, nearly overwhelming urge to touch him there, to experience the disparity of prickly and smooth, to slide her fingers down his throat to the ridge of his collarbone.
Ella blinked rapidly and gripped the keys tight, breaking the spell. “Are you trying some hypnotic woo-woo on me? Not cool. Kindly remove your hand from my truck.”
He cocked his head and his eyes flashed. “Don’t you want help with your nightmares, Ella?”

And if the excerpt isn’t enough to convince you Beautifully Burned is worth a read, here’s the back cover blurb.  

Grandma warned me to resist him.

I know what he is. Even if he doesn't sparkle in the sun, hiss at holy water, or go by the traditional name of vampire, I know.

He doesn't want or need my blood. He wants my dreams...more specifically, my nightmares. And I've got oodles of those, so many they leak.

He's emotionally scarred, growly, dangerous, and kindles all my senses.  Love isn't on his agenda. Having him for a guardian isn't on my list of fun, either. My touch sends him into darkness.

I shouldn't want him.

I can't want him.

But I do.

If I surrender instead of escape, I'll lose everything--my sister, my will, my life. Gran forgot to tell me the most important detail of all: how am I supposed to resist him when he's everything I've ever dreamed of?

Beautifully Burned is told in dual, third person and may be read as a stand alone.

To find out more about CJ and her novels you can visit:

In addition, CJ has a book giveaway this week, which you can enter by following this link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 11, 2016

In the Steps of Edgar Allan Poe-The House at 234 North Seventh St.

Poe's portrait found in the house.

Have you ever gotten a chance to check something off your bucket list?

Recently, I had that opportunity. My family and I were visiting Philadelphia. We’d seen the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s print shop and Betsy Ross’s cottage and I noticed that Edgar Allan Poe’s house was within walking distance.

 I’ve been a fan of Poe even before my American Literature classes in High School because of my love of horror flicks, so I was excited to see where he lived. And if you know me even a little, you probably know that my interests inspire research. Here are some facts I discovered about his early life and the events that led up to his renting the home at 234 North Seventh St.

1.On January 19, 1809, Edgar Poe was born. His was the middle child of three. He had an older brother, William who was called “Henry” and later his sister named Rosalie arrived.
2. Edgar’s father left his family when Edgar was about two-years-old. It’s believed he died soon after.
3. Edgar’s mother, Eliza, was an actress and theater-goers thought she was good. They described her performances as “enchanting” and “pleasing.” Unfortunately, Eliza had tuberculosis and she died when she was only twenty-four-years old and Edgar was two.
4. John and Fanny Allan became Edgar’s parents. They sent Edgar to a private school, when he turned five. He was a good student. Teachers remembered him loving writing and poetry.
5. Edgar moved to England with his new family. Unfortunately, the business John Allan hoped would take off in England didn’t, so the family returned to America.
6. Edgar attended the University of Virginia, but he ran out of money and had to leave after a year.
7. He entered the U.S. Army and maybe because he had been such a good student, the army admitted him to the military academy at West Point.  Edgar didn’t like it and began to disobey orders and neglect his duties.  Needless to say, his behavior didn’t go over well. The academy kicked him out.
8. When his foster father found out, he was so upset he disowned Edgar.
9. In 1831, Edgar went to live with his father’s mother, which of course, would be his grandmother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, and his brother, Henry. Henry was sick with tuberculosis. They also lived with Edgar’s aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia. He grew very close to his cousin, Virginia.
10. Edgar knew he had to get a job to support his family. He wanted to be a writer and in 1831 he got Elam and Bliss in New York to publish his second book called, Poems of Edgar A.  Poe. He had to pay for the publishing, so he asked his fellow cadets to help him. When they did, he dedicated the book to them.
11. In 1833, Edgar won a writing contest for a story called Manuscript Found in a Bottle. He earned fifty dollars. His writing career was growing. Soon he landed a job as an editor.
12. In 1836, Edgar’s grandmother died and rather than being parted from Virginia, he married her. She was only twelve or thirteen at the time, but Edgar and Virginia listed her age as twenty-one.
13. In 1843, the couple moved to Philadelphia and rented a house in a neighbor that used to be called the Spring Garden district. They lived there with Maria Clemm. It’s this house that I visited and here are a couple of pictures I snapped.

This is one of the closets. Notice the photo of Maria Clemm, Poe's mother-in-law and aunt.

This is the stairs to the basement, which may have been the inspiration for the poem The Black Cat.

Unlike other houses turned into museums, this house is almost empty—no curtains, beds, dressers, desks or tables or chairs to speak of.  I was told that Poe sold most of the furniture to finance his family’s move to New York.  One online site described the house as being maintained in “arrested decay.” This means that historical society that cares for it allows the paint to peel and the house to age. The caregivers perform just enough upkeep so that the house is safe. The house’s arrested decay actually seems to make it an appropriate setting for the poem, The Black Cat, which authorities believe Poe penned there.
Offerings in the gift shop
Edgar Allan Poe is an interesting person. Many people consider him to be a master of suspense. The Poe Museum credits him as being the inventor of the detective story, a pioneer of Science Fiction, and a master of the psychological horror story.  His life was a little bit like his writings. He suffered a number of tragedies and died early and mysteriously.  His house also retains that eerie quality needed for good Gothic tale.  To my mind, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Binns, Tristan Boyer. Edgar Allan Poe: Master of Suspense. New York: F. Watts, 2005. Print.
Gigliotti, Jim, and Tim Foley. Who Was Edgar Allan Poe? N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Lange, Karen E. Nevermore: A Photobiography of Edgar Allan Poe. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2009. Print.