Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Parallel Universes

Feel like you’re living in a parallel universe?
Some of us who write paranormal or fantasy fiction probably feel like that a lot.  I know when I’m in the middle of a Kandesky vampire story, I’d rather be in the celeb-driven, uber-wealthy, jet-setting world where Jean-Louis (be still my heart) hangs out.
Ever so much better than dirty laundry, cat hair in the corners, windows that make LA smog look clear and unpaid bills.
I think it’s normal to want to run off with your characters.
But a truly bizarre parallel universe connects with me through my webpage.
When I signed my first book contract, the publisher said I had to put up a web page.  OK, then.
I leaned on my way-tech-savvy son-in-law and my daughter and, voila, they’d registered my domain name and pulled a site together.  It had the basics and now that I’m about to publish my third book, sadly needs updating and way more care than I’ve given it in the past.
I have a lurking fear, though, that the other universe will know it’s been updated and try even harder to get in touch with me.
Now, I can go to the comments section and interact with the people who live in some other universe.
They must be highly educated because they speak a number of languages, such as  “Магазин электронных сигарет: английские электронные сигареты, смактроник электронная сигарета, телемагазин электронная сигарета, электронные сигареты вднх, электронные сигареты понс магазины. Сайт.”
They’ve also studied medicine and want to help me stay well because I get offers. “Benazepril Vasten No Prescription Amiloride Hydrochlorothiazide No Prescription Order Moduretic Pharmacy buy Lasix no rx cheap Amoxicillin Names Prozac Buy Online Generic Name My Prescription Solution Tramadol Cod Diet Lasix Medication Fluid Retention tramadol 40 mg Prozac Gasoline Amoxicillin Kids Drug G Spot And Viagra Age Related Viagra Fioricet Online Canada Take Vitex And Prozac Together Sildenafil Citrate No Prescription Week”
And at least one of them is involved with current interests and culture when she says “I am use lida web slimming caps. I want listen so f what with metallica”
Not everybody on the other side shows a god-like presence, though.  One poor soul asked me—me of all people—“How do i start a website and what is the approximate cost?”
It’s comforting to know that the economic recession has hurt the other side.  They used to try and sell me Ugg boots and Louis Vuiton purses, but no more.  I guess I’ll know when their economy hits the pits—they’ll be wanting me to help them refinance their house or pay for their bankruptcy.
I suspect I could install a spam filter.  Nobody emails me, a middle-aged woman, offers for penis-enlargement or Viagra any more.  If I block all the spam comments on my site, it kinda takes the fun out of my contact with one of the parallel universes, those beings who so want us to talk to them!
* * * * * * * *

Michele Drier’s second book in the Kandesky vampire series, SNAP: New Talent, goes live on Amazon this week. Visit her website at

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Joys Of House Hunting

So here we are Sunday afternoon at 3:53 Central Time, 4:53 Eastern Time, in Indianapolis Indiana.

I've driven up Interstate 65 from Nashville before, but the last time was right after an ice storm that swept across Kentucky. Nicole and I were on our way to Louisville to see Wicked for the first time.

I remember nothing but ice-covered broken trees lining the freeway almost from the Kentucky state line all the way up. Louisville was buried under a couple feet of snow. The streets downtown were barely passable in places.

This time everything was green, the skies partly cloudy, and we enjoyed watching the landscape change from rolling to hills to flat farmland. Indianapolis reminds me a lot of Columbus Ohio. There is farmland and forest on either side of the freeway, then the city rises up out of ground like someone dropped it there from above.

I had maps and we had our GPS, but honestly it's very easy to find your way around here. As soon as we exited the freeway we were struck by the amount of stores and restaurants! If the entire city is like this we won't lack for shopping or eating here. We're staying in the northeast section near where the new office for my real job will be, and it's very pretty. Upscale with wide streets and lots of trees.

The hotel isn't terrible. Not the best nor the worst I've stayed in. We had to change rooms because the A/C wasn't working in ours and it was a connecting room. I have this thing about wanting my hotel room to be as QUIET as possible (HA! HA!) and it's been my experience that connecting rooms usually don't make that possible. And since hotel rooms are (to me, at least) always too damn hot, I crank up the A/C.

Hubby is resting right now while I play on the Internet. He drove all the way up here and we only stopped once to eat.

Monday morning and hubby and I were up early to have the free breakfast at the hotel. They don't tell you it's free because no one would pay for it. If that was Starbucks coffee I'm Nora Roberts. We split a bagel and a half ripe banana then got on the freeway to the find the VA Hospital in Indy. This town is pretty easy to get around. The streets are well-marked and the freeways remind us of Cleveland (original home). The city even looks like it a little bit.

We found the hospital and I wrote over 2,000 words in the lobby while hubby had his interview. What would I do without my iPod? I mean, how else could I write while sitting in a hospital lobby?

Then we came back to the area near the hotel and had a REAL breakfast at Perkins. Haven't eaten there since we lived in Ohio! YUM!!

This afternoon we meet with the realtor and begin looking at houses!! I'm so excited!!

Spoke too soon about being excited. It's Monday evening now and we still have three more to see in the morning, but it's not going well.

Note to all homeowners: you may think you'll be in your home for the rest of your life but chances are you'll be selling that puppy. Here are some tips:

(1) Don't do a do-it-yourself wiring job for that big screen TV-sound system-God only knows what in the basement. Cause when you take the TV and furniture out of the basement, it looks like hell and all the potential buyer can think of is "how do I get these hideous wires out of here?"

(2) Roof issue? Water leak? Hey, it happens. While I appreciate the two year old roof telling me you fixed the issue, I don't appreciate the water stains on the drywall and ceiling, or the crappy job you/your husband/your drunk brother-in-law did on patching the drywall/ceiling. Spend another few hundred dollars and have a pro do it, because now if I buy your home (which I probably won't) I'll have to have it done because it's horrible.

(3) If you need to replace the carpeting in your home, replace it. Or at least disclose how stained and GROSS it is in the pictures so I don't waste my time looking at your home.

(4) CLEAN YOUR HOME ONCE IN A WHILE. IT SMELLS LIKE A PIG STY. Why would I want to buy a 7 year old home that's so whipped and smelly I have to wonder if you've been sacrificing goats indoors or something? Answer: I would NOT.

(5) If you finish your basement, DO NOT ... I repeat DO NOT close off the pipes, water main shut off, or gas main shut off. DUH. These things are sort of kind of IMPORTANT and the new owners will most likely have to break through the drywall at some point and ACCESS them.

So... wish me luck tomorrow!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guest Post - Author Lois Lavrisa on her "Road to Indie Publishing"

"I asked my friend, Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestselling-author, Lois Lavrisa to guest post today about her path in publishing. I really loved this article and wanted to share it with you. Thank you, Lois" - P.R. Mason

Today I would like to I write about why I want to try independent publishing. If you would indulge me, and allow me to take huge liberties with a classic story, I will tell you my (abbreviated) story of my efforts to get traditionally published and why I Independent published LIQUID LIES last month.
Perhaps many of you have been through the same scenario as I, and because of this many of you may also feel disenchanted. Here is my tale:
Somewhere, over the rainbow in New York, publishing happened. Agents and editors in the shining city had power to grant writers their dream of being a published author. Of course, as a writer I wanted to achieve that dream too. And therefore, I worked diligently and tirelessly: I joined professional writing organizations, attended countless writing conferences and workshops along the road to publishing success.

Beta readers and critique partners read my work. I learned the craft, I networked, I wrote and rewrote. Then I did it all over again.

At last, with my manuscript polished and complete, I decided to pitch it at a conference. When it was my turn for my pitch session, I was led down a long golden carpeted hallway, to a large conference room which emitted an emerald glow under the fluorescent lights. Trying to act confident, I straightened my back, and marched my ruby shoed feet toward the table assigned me, and then I sat down.
My note cards trembling in my hand. And here’s how it (sort of) went. (Please note ‘editor’ can be substituted with ‘agent’ and vice versa):

“I am the great and powerful editor. Who are you?”

“I am the mmm..meek and mild writer, Lois.” I stumble over the words as if my brain cells had liquefied, as I nervously smoothed a pleat of my blue and white checkered dress. My heart pounded so loudly I could hear it in my ears. My fear was audible, I felt like a coward. Yet, I had been given a coveted audience with a big NY editor- I couldn’t blow it – or my dreams would come crashing down on me.

“Why are you here?”

“Um, I would like…” my courage faltered as the words stopped midsentence, caught in my throat. I nervously wiggled my feet under the table.

“Yes?” came a booming voice.

“I want to be published and I’ve heard that you have the power to do so.” I said, with my knees clanking together, rattling like tin.

“Silence.” A distant bored look was followed by a yawn. “I’m looking for a unique story. I must love the voice.”

“Voice? I think that I have a voice and….” I gave my prepared and practiced pitch.

“Send it to me.” With a wave of a hand, I was dismissed as another writer walked over to take my place.

“Oh thank you great and powerful one,” I replied timidly, as I cowered away. Surely my wish would be granted if I just did what was asked of me.

Walking out of the conference room, my head spinning, I muttered over and over to myself, “Synopsis, query and submission, oh my. Synopsis, query and submission, oh my.”

Back home, I wrote, and rewrote, perfecting every detail. All the while, taking care of my hubby and four children and teaching at a local university. The frenzied pace of all that had to be done, made me feel like I was in a twister, as flying monkeys (okay, maybe they were just very big dust bunnies) circled me.
Sleep deprivation caused me to have a wicked temperament. My diet went to hell as I ate all the wrong food, causing a greenish tint in my complexion. But I was determined to get the requested submission to the great and powerful New York editor who had the power to make my publishing dreams come true.
Then I sent my submission out.

I waited.

And waited some more.

Days turned into weeks.

And weeks turned into months.

I attended additional workshops. I went to more conferences where I pitched again and again. Time and time again, I sent out submissions.

Then I waited and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Rejections came in (although many editors and agents never responded at all.)
Quite often, I received requests for fulls. And a couple of times, rewrites were suggested. But ultimately neither representation nor contracts were extended to me. Another year went by. Another manuscript was written. I was beginning to believe that I would never get published. That no one would ever read my stories. That my dream would die under the crush of the slush pile.
In sheer determination, and passion to be a published author, I chugged along. The yellow brick road to traditional publishing began to look grey and pot holed, and seemed to lead to nowhere.

At a recent conference, as I pitched to yet another great and powerful editor, I saw a light streaming from behind a crack in a door just beyond where I sat. Laughter spilled out with the splinter of light. I craned my neck to see a sign hung above which read, “Independent Publishing.”

“What’s over there?” I asked the editor for whom I was pitching.

“Do not pay attention to what is behind that door.” The great and powerful one said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I am the great and powerful.” The editor motioned toward the door. “There is nothing to see over there.”

Suddenly I felt smart and courageous. My heart told me to go. I got up and walked over to the door and opened it wide.
A beautiful author, who glowed as though in a huge pink bubble, welcomed me.
She said, “Lois you had the power all along to get published.”

“Really?” My heart leapt in song. “I do?”

“Yes, just click your keyboard keys and say, ‘Independent publishing.’”

And that, dear friends, is the long and short of my tale.
Not to say that NY agents and editors still don’t have their role and value, but we need to know that there is another way to make your publishing dreams come true. And somewhere over the rainbow, both traditional publishing and independent publishing can be found.
You have the power to decide.
And that, my friends, is what true power is all about- having choices.

LIQUID LIES reviews/praise

A Compelling Story of Lies and Deadly Consequences.” P. R. Mason, award-winning author.
“Liquid Lies is an imaginative story …if you like a good mystery, put this book on your “must read” list.” Nancy Remler, PHD, author.
“Liquid Lies is a mystery thriller that makes you feel anything but cozy. A story as tension charged and as fast moving as a waterslide. Once you're into Liquid Lies there's no stopping until you reach the end.” Patricia Mason, author.
“I absolutely loved this book! A dark secret held for years by two friends comes back to haunt them with murderous results. Tension builds throughout this taut mystery right up until the action packed climax. Lois Lavrisa will keep you guessing until the end. I highly recommend Liquid Lies.” The Edit Dude.


Lois Lavrisa writes Mystery with a Twist. Her first mystery, LIQUID LIES, and Amazon bestseller, is set in an affluent lake town in Wisconsin, and asks the question “Would you tell the truth, even if it meant losing everything?”  In LIQUID LIES, the main character Cecilia “CiCi” Coe has to answer that question, before anyone else is killed.
Her next book, a women's fiction HARMONY HILL releases in June 2012.  Her short story "Picture not Perfect" ins in  ETERNAL SPRING, a  young adult anthology released in April 2012, She’s working on a cozy mystery series, THE CHUBBY CHICKS CLUB about sassy southern sleuths, set in Savannah, Georgia.  THE CHUBBY CHICKS CLUB are a rag tag group of friends (not all chubby nor all chicks) who find themselves investigating a friend’s mysterious death, with time running out for them to find the killer before the killer finds them.  THE CHUBBY CHICKS CLUB, book one, should be completed by fall 2012.
She’s been married to her aerospace husband Tom for over 21 years and they have four children- two boys and two girls.  She’s a member of several writing organizations including: Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Sisters in Crime (SIC). Currently, she’s serving as vice president of the Low Country RWA. For the past six years she’s been a member of the Savannah Pen & Ink writers group. She’s written for a local newspaper, a magazine, several newsletters and posts weekly on a blog. Additionally, Lois has worked as an adjunct instructor at several universities.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Indie Author Spotlight: Freaks of Greenfield High

by Maree Anderson

Book Blurb:

Jay’s a cyborg who looks just like normal teenage girl. She’s super-strong, super-smart, and she can even appear to grow and age like a human. When a covert organization intent on using Jay as a weapon comes after her, she needs to find a place where she can blend in. Greenfield High seems perfect… except that the boys all think she’s totally hot and keep hitting on her, and she has no clue how to handle the attention. Who knew high school could be so perilous?

To add to her confusion she’s evolving – experiencing human emotions for the first time. And when she encounters ex-jock-turned-outcast Tyler, he sends her logical brain into a spin. She’s just starting to get the hang of this girlfriend/boyfriend thing when her pursuers track her down.

Now’s sooo not the time for a cyborg to fall in love and get all emotional!

This indie book came to my attention because the author revealed some super exciting news about it. The details are still in the works and I’m not at liberty to reveal any of it, but after hearing the news, I just had to read this book. Boy, I’m so glad I did.

Major Kudos for Originality:

Take The Terminator and throw in teenage angst, bullying, and a machine that discovers it/she can feel and you’ve got the wonderfully original FREAKS OF GREENFIELD HIGH.

The Emotional Pull:

The author did a brilliant job of showing Jay’s confusion as she evolves, becoming more human as she interacts with others. At first, she analyzes her feelings and breaks them down into chemical reactions. Later, her confusion escalates and she worries she’s malfunctioning as her feelings for Tyler grow. She begins to care and eventually to love. Something she never thought possible for a being like her.

Then when Tyler discovers the girl he’s falling for is a cyborg, the scene is utterly heartbreaking. I felt his pain and understood his anger and hurt. Wow, emotion on every page there.

One Minor Problem I Had:

I’m not one for big dumps of vivid narrative. A few descriptive words here and there usually do it for me. As I read FREAKS, I came away feeling like I’d listened to an audio book instead of reading the words on the page. Why? It was because, with the exception of Jay and Tyler’s sister, the author didn’t describe any other character’s appearance. I knew what their personalities were like, but I had no idea what they looked like. The biggest issue was not being able to picture Tyler. I knew he had problems styling his hair, but I never knew what color it was so I could never fully picture him in my mind.

The Ending:

Wow, the author certainly ramped things up at the end when the bad guys finally track Jay down and she does what she needs to do to keep Tyler and his family safe. What a page turner. Again, my heart broke for Tyler and what he had to go through, but it was worth it in the end.

Final Thoughts:

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I’m not sure I’d let my 13 year old daughter read it. There are some mature situations (that are referenced, but take place off the page) and the language the teenagers use, while I know is realistic, I don’t want my tweener reading. Not yet, anyway. I think this book is more suitable for the older, high-school teen crowd. But if you like YA with a bit of romance and Sci-Fi thrown in, this is definitely the book for you.

Learn more about Maree Anderson at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Game of Thrones Season One Mini Review

I've always loved the fantasy genre. SF and romance, too, but most of all fantasy. When HBO decided to make Martin's Game of Thrones into a series, I was definitely intrigued. What's more, it's hubby's favorite genre for reading, too.

However, we don't get HBO so I knew we'd need to wait for the DVDs. We heard so many good things about it we didn't struggle over the decision to purchase them when they were released. We also do that for True Blood. (Note: I haven't read the GoT books, but I have read the Sookie books.)

Long story short, we watched all 10 episodes of GoT in the space of a couple weeks. That's super fast for us, because we have maybe an hour a day free time, tops. Here's my mini review of the season:

Violence like WHOA, darkness, angst, nudity, gaggy incest, men who need baths, freaky stuff that might haunt you, intricate worldbuilding, not enough chicks, and some things that made me want to punch the writers in the no-no place. I'd give it a solid B. Very absorbing even if there wasn't much about it that gave me the happy. Plus I heard some rumor winter is coming, I dunno, those people were all really depressed. I think they had seasonal affective disorder, even the Huns, I mean, the Dothraki, with their grassland and Mediterranean climate sunshine.

We'll doubtless get season 2 when it's available as well. I kind of want to be watching it at the same time as the rest of the world, but then I'd miss the experience of powering through the whole thing in a short time. Feels more like a luxury that way.

What about you? Like to watch with the rest of the world? Hoard it up and overdose? Don't watch stuff like GoT anyway because it's too grody?

Jody W.  *

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Luncheon Not Soon Forgotten: Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Event

Ever have one of those experiences you wish you could replay again and again?

I did this week. I attended Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation event in Milwaukee.

At the door, I was given a gift bag filled with books -- something every reader appreciates. I liked that, but I l-o-v-e-d getting to eat lunch with many of my favorite authors.

Header courtesy of samulli

Maybe they’re on your list of must-read writers, too. If not, I’ll introduce them.
Marjorie M. Lui and Me

1. Marjorie M. Liu pens The Hunter Kiss series. I actually got to talk to Marjorie, asking about her heroine Maxine Kiss, who keeps the world safe by fighting alongside the demon tattoos that cover her skin. I can’t wait to read her latest book, "The Mortal Bone."
Mia Marlowe

2. Mia Marlowe has a cool feature on her blog called Red Pencil Thursdays. She and her readers give aspiring authors help on creating awesome beginnings. I had been following Mia’s online critiques and recently I purchased her novel, Touch of a Thief, and I loved it. I knew Mia gave good advice, but I didn’t fully realize she was an awesome writer until I bought that book. Now I’m looking forward to reading her next book, Touch of a Rogue.

Cathy Maxwell

3. Cathy Maxwell has written 26 Regency-era romances. I’ve read A Scandalous Marriage, The Earl Claims His Wife, Married in Haste, and Falling In Love Again. A confession: One of my bucket-list goals is to read Cathy’s entire collection.
Laura Scott

4. Laura Scott creates stories for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense Line as well as medical romances, while at the same time juggling a full-time job as a nurse. She’s what I hope I’ll be whenever I grow up.
Leanna Renee Hieber and fans

5. Leanna Renee Hieber specializes in Gothic Victorian fantasy novels. Her latest: Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul. I look forward to reading it.

Lori Handeland

6. Lori Handeland has won the Rita Award twice, but I was excited to find out about her William Shakespeare Undead series because I think it’s a classic mash up and there will be zombies involved.

Jade Lee and fans (She's in the middle.)

7. In addition to being a USA Today best-selling author, Jade Lee was witty and great to talk to. I recently picked up her book, Engaged In Wickedness.

B. A. Binns is on the left.

8. B.A. Binns writes young-adult romances that feature “real boys growing into real men.” Her book, Pull, won the 2010 National Readers Choice award.
Lori Devoti and Amy Knupp

9. Lori Devoti writes stories in paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy and young-adult books. She also teaches writing. Her novel, The Witch Thief, was a top pick with Romantic Times magazine.

Heather Graham
 10. Heather Graham, who has written more than 100 novels, was keynote speaker. I haven't read any of her stories, but I liked her voice and the compelling anecdotes she shared. I’m going to look for her work, perhaps her latest book, The Unseen.
Victoria Alexander

11. Victoria Alexander gave crowns to everyone at her table. She’s a skilled writer, a New York Times best-seller, in fact, and a tolerant woman. She put up with me taking all kinds of pictures. Her advice for pre-published writers; “Don’t give up. You improve with every word you write.”
Debbie Giusti is on the left.

12. I like Debbie Giusti’s motto, “Faith with an edge…cross my heart.” Her books include Nowhere to Hide, Scared to Death, and Killer Headline. What I’m looking for is her latest novel, The Officer’s Secret.

Barbara Vey
13. Barbara Vey is as kind in person as she is in her blog, Beyond Her Book She organized this event and put in hours and hours to make the event special for all readers -- and it really was. Thanks, Barbara. I had lots of fun meeting people who write the stories I love. I'm sure other readers did, too.

How about you guys, do you have a favorite author? Who is it? Please share.

If you’d like to see more pictures, here’s a link to Picasa. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't Fear The Synopsis!

The dreaded synopsis. Just the word can strike fear the in hearts of the strongest writers. I've seen a synopsis described as all sorts of evil things, including parsel tongue that only Slytherins can speak or understand. Unfortunately 99% of the publishers out there require one, and they're nothing at all to fear.

The synopsis is basically a condensed version of your story. It starts before you write it. Or it should, unless you're one of those rare beings who simply sits down at your keyboard and begins to flesh out characters without names or a GMC, and a plot without at least a basic idea of where it's going.

Most of us, at the very least, pick our characters, name them, and write out their GMC before we begin. Right there you already have the building blocks for your synopsis. You use GMC as a roadmap to write, and you can also use it as the foundation for your synopsis.

A synopsis is your story in condensed form. Just as GMC is a very basic outline of what your character wants (G=goal), why she wants it (M=motivation), and what's standing in her way of getting it (C=conflict), it's also the outline, if you will, for your synopsis.

For my debut Siren release, HIS MAJESTY'S SECRET, I had to provide a 300 word max synopsis. Obviously you can expand this to more words if the publisher or agent doesn't specify a word count limit. Some ask for five to ten pages. But when you're short on word count, you have to be able to summarize your story in miniature, and there's no reason you can't this if you plan ahead of time.

This synopsis is actually less than 300 words. The book is over 70,000 words and has a very complicated plot. It takes place in an alternate universe that mimics our Medieval period:

**When his half-brother Austin declares himself King, Crown Prince Dalmas of Ashdowne is forced to flee his castle or be put to death for treason. On his way to the house of a banished courtier who has a diary he needs to help prove Austin’s claims are false, he and his valet prevent the imminent rape of a young woman, killing Castle Guards in the process.

Fleeing a forced betrothal to Count Sagremor, who has already had three wives hanged for a crime they didn’t commit, Ravenna LoPresti of Wythmail finds herself an unwitting accomplice to murder of her would-be rapists, and a reluctant companion to Dalmas on his journey to find the truth and win back his rightful crown.

Their journey doesn’t end when they find the diary, for Austin and his Guards chase Dalmas, and a Royal Proclamation declares a price on Ravenna’s head as well.

As their lust and love grow for each other, they must first cross into the kingdom of Enfield to seek the help of Crown Prince Galatyn, then journey to the Wastelands to find the banished Council member who has the final proof Dalmas needs.

Dalmas will need an army to storm the castle and defeat Austin or there is no future for him and Ravenna. Ravenna has been falsely accused of murder in an effort to force her to return to Wythmail and marry the Count.

Galatyn’s army comes to Dalmas’s aid and the group set off for the castle, but Ravenna is captured by Austin’s Guards and taken directly to him, where she learns her father and the Count fabricated the murder charges.

Having defeated Austin and taken back his rightful place on the throne, Dalmas proposes marriage to Ravenna and she accepts.**

Start with the basic GMC or hook for each character. Summarize each in no more than a couple of sentences. I started with Dalmas because this really is his story. He's just found out his cousin is actually his half-brother, and because of the convoluted laws of his Kingdom and the fact Austin was born two days before Dalmas, if Austin's claims are true Dalmas is not the Crown Prince. He has minutes to flee the only home he's ever known or be put to death by Austin for treason.

Then I summarized Ravenna's plight. She's on her way to the portal near the castle to escape into the world of Outsiders - our world - because she thinks it's her only chance at freedom to choose her own life. She runs into trouble and Dalmas comes to her rescue, but in her eyes all she's done is trade a forced betrothal to a man who's already had three wives put to death for crimes they didn't commit, for a journey with a Prince who's running away and refused to leave her behind because he doesn't trust her.

The plot involves secret lists, a diary both Dalmas and Austin need, infant swapping and murder. What I did was hit the high points - the ones that are crucial to the resolution of the conflicts these two face.

As to the ending, YES an acquisitions editor or agent needs to see it. A synopsis is NOT a query letter or a tease. This isn't the place for "what-if" questions or "can they find true happiness" prose. It's basic, to-the-point, no-nonsense, and it always gives away the ending. Don't confuse it with a blurb, which definitely needs to intrigue and tease the reader. A synopsis is for an acquisitions editor's eyes. They want to see that you have viable goals, motivation, conflicts and an ending that makes sense to those.

Like I said earlier, if you've done a GMC for each character, you have the basics already. In Dalmas's case his GMC was this:

G: To find the proof and win back his Crown
M: Austin has forced him from his castle and falsely stolen his birthright
C: He's forced to bring Ravenna along on a dangerous journey and is falling in love with her

See how I tied all that into the synopsis? This is one of the things Dalmas works through as the book progresses.

Here's Ravenna's GMC:
G: To flee her world through the closest portal so she doesn't have to marry Count Sagremor
M: He's had three previous wives killed and is only after her father's money
C: Crown Prince Dalmas of Ashdowne saves her from rape but then forces her to come along with him on his dangerous journey

I've included the horrible revelations Ravenna is forced to deal with in the synopsis when she's taken back to the castle by Austin, because they're crucial to all she's been through with Dalmas to that point.

I hope this has helped take the fear away a bit. And really, if you can't summarize your story in a few hundred words, the problem may not be your fear of writing a synopsis. It might be that you don't have a cohesive story to begin with. Doing a GMC for each character before you begin isn't only useful for writing the synopsis. It gives you a roadmap as you work through the book. You can have more than one GMC for each character. Dalmas had three and Ravenna actually had four. For the synopsis, I simply picked the one for each that was at the central core of the entire story.

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Crit or Not To Crit Group

I’ve had good and bad experiences with crit groups. I don’t have a crit partner, though I have a couple of brainstorming buddies when I get stuck. I’ve sent out small bits of work for them to look at, but it’s rare. This might be from experience, or simply because I’ve been burned in the past.” Allison Brennan

“Many published writers say that critique groups contributed to their success. Critique groups can help you improve your writing, detect weaknesses in plot, structure, or prose, and whip pieces into shape so they catch an editor’s interest.” Maryland Writers’ Association

Critique – to examine critically: Review

Critic – 2: one given to harsh or captious judgment

Five years ago when I became serious about the craft, some of the first advice I received was to get a critique partner or, better yet, join a critique group. The word, critique, sounded like a dressed-up version of critic as in criticized, which equaled ridiculed as in ridiculous in my mind, and the very last thing I wanted was to go Medieval on someone for telling me my new born baby manuscript sucked. Long story short, it was ix-nay on the critique roup-gay.

Six months or so later, I found the RWA and a local chapter and then Marley found me. As with every friendship, it took time to build trust and turn loose of those manuscript pages. We’ve been crit partners for about four years now. She knows me, my voice, my style as I know hers. We’ve become very comfortable in our critting relationship which is why we’ve begun to contemplate adding some new flavor to the soup and forming a group.

When I Googled Writers’ Critique Groups I found page after page of anonymous crit groups, how to’s, and other oddball combinations. For me, anonymous crit groups would be like playing Russian roulette with my WIP. I mean, you can’t copyright an idea, right? And yet, you want to find that perfect fit so you have to take some chances. I think there should be an E-Harmony that specializes in finding the right critique partner/group. With their patented 29 levels of compatibility a match would be guaranteed! That’s an idea, but maybe you have some of your own, dear readers. If you would care to share your experiences, ideas, suggestions, or what works for you, we would love to hear it! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thirteen Reasons to Support Schools In Asia

Greetings Diners,
Thanks for stopping by.
When Mina told me about her mission to help children in Asia, a cause dear to my heart, I couldn't wait to have her visit the diner. Please give her your attention.

Growing up in Bangladesh, I have seen the poorest of the poor. Education and work training bring opportunities, which lead to a better life. Education gives you dreams and the means to make them real.
I'm passing forward the gift of education with my readers’ help by donating 50% of the proceeds of A Tale of Two Djinns to UNICEF's Schools for Asia. Here’s my personal blog post on why I chose to do donate. I hope together we will make a difference.

Here are 13 Reasons Why You Should Support Schools For Asia:

1.     Among the 67 million children who are currently not enrolled in school worldwide, 26 million of them live in the Asia-Pacific Region.
2.     The Schools for Asia campaign will help the most marginalized, excluded or otherwise vulnerable children, including girls and children from poor families and of ethnic minorities.
3.     Of the estimated total primary-age children that were not in school in 2005, 57 per cent were girls, and this may be an underestimate. (
4.     The initiative will operate in some of the most poverty-stricken countries -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
5.     The Schools for Asia model is simple: Ensuring schools operate in the best interest of each and every child by providing young students with trained teachers and a safe, protective and inclusive learning environment.
6.     It’s a model that works. Schools for Asia follows the successful Schools for Africa campaign, which was launched in 2004 as an international fundraising partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Peter Krämer Stiftung (foundation).
7.     The goal is not only to provide children with better and more accessible schools, but also, to keep them there.
8.     In 2009, thanks to UNICEF, 3.8 million children benefitted from school kits.
9.     Every dollar you donate adds up and makes a difference. According to UNICEF, every dollar you donate helps children around the world to grow up healthy, stay protected from harm and to go to school.
10. $250 provides “School-in-a-Box” kit containing basic education supplies for 80 children.
11. Lack of education can be tied to other important challenges such as maternal health, economic wellbeing, child labor, and human rights abuses.
12. Conversely, education can help promote gender equality, economic opportunities, and a more productive citizenry.
13. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are an estimated 21.6 million children, between the ages of 5 and 14 years, working in South Asia. Every child should have the opportunity to be a child.
Education does make a difference. It helped me discover my love of reading and writing. Thanks to my education I knew I wanted to a writer and I achieved that dream.  How has your education helped you?

Author Bio:

Mina Khan is a Texas-based writer and food enthusiast. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. Between stories, she teaches culinary classes and writes for her local newspaper. Other than that, she's raising a family of two children, two cats, two dogs and a husband.

She grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. Her debut novella, THE DJINN’S DILEMMAwas published November 2011. A second novella, A TALE OF TWO DJINNS, came out March 2012. She had a lot of fun writing her djinn heroes.

You can find her at:

Facebook Author Page:



Akshay, warrior prince of the earth djinns, earns the title of Crown Prince at a high cost when he loses his best friend in a battle against ancient enemies, the water djinns. Heartsick, he escapes to Earth to mourn.
Nothing gets the biological clock ticking (and elders lecturing) like almost dying in battle, so Maya,princess of the water djinns, travels to Earth for some no-strings-attached sex to fulfill her duty and produce an heir. But the beautiful and tough warrior gets more than she bargained for when she meets Shay.

Their not-so-simple one-night stand is interrupted by assassins and the world, as they know it, is changed forever. As Maya and Shay pull together to survive, both are determined to have their happily-ever-after and bring peace to their worlds — warring families, shadow assassins, and nosy busybodies be damned.

A TALE OF TWO DJINNS is available at Amazon,B& N, Smashwords and other places.


Akshay wanted to charge in and claim her, but he hesitated as he remembered the look of horror plastered on Maya’s face just before she’d fled. He didn’t want to frighten her away. So he pulled in calming breaths and tried to tamp down the rage still swirling inside him like a hot desert wind. He needed to be calm, reasonable and persuasive. He needed her to stay. She lay on her stomach, clutching his pillow in her arms. Wary golden eyes watched him approach the bed. “You look like shit.”

Pulling on all his reserve, Akshay managed to stop a few feet from her. He touched the tenderness around his left eye and winced. Yeah, Jazz had landed a few good licks as well.
Quick as a serpent, that one. “It was a fair fight.”
“One you needn’t have had.”
“I guess I’m not as forgiving as you are.” No one, no one insulted his woman. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew she was hiding something and wished she’d trust him enough to share her secrets. But he loved her, and that meant accepting what she was ready to give. They stared at each other in silence as he tried to find the words to propose to her, ask her to share his life. Damn, he’d always known he’d marry someday…yet, he never expected to be this nervous. Truth be told, he’d never expected to feel anything other than resigned acceptance.

She sat up in bed and tugged her dress into place. “I’m well enough to travel now,” she said. “I’d appreciate it if you could have someone drop me off at a crossroad.”
Temper and misery flared at her words, ate at him in ravenous bites. He firmed his stance and
folded his arms across his chest to keep from grabbing and shaking some sense into her. “Prove it.”
“You look like a tough gal, someone who could handle ruffians on the road,” he said. “You claim to be well enough to travel. Prove it and I will let you go with a clear conscience.” Never.
Maya clambered out of the bed, consternation knitting her brows. “How?”
“Beat me in friendly combat.”
Hope shone in her eyes. “If I win, I can leave?”
He nodded. “If I win, you stay.”
“You want a fight, you’ll get a fight.” A fierce grin lit her face, as she rolled and loosened her shoulders. “Bring it on.”
Heat and adrenaline rushed through Akshay, shot to his groin. Oh yes, he liked this woman. A woman with lean muscles and sexy curves, who wore her scars with pride and relished a good fight. A woman after his own heart. He sauntered toward the door and beckoned her with a wave. “Follow me.”

Faeries and dragons and what about that Silk Road?

Faeries and dragons along the Silk Road

I co-present a series of workshops about myths and legends around the world. One that seems to get requested a lot is the one about faeries and dragons around the world. Why is that?

I mean, I know why I’m interested. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of myth out there about faeries and dragons. Everywhere, it seems. And if you were an anthropology major, like I was, you get interested in all sorts of cultural minutia. And language (I was a linguistical anthropology major, and thus culture always took a backseat to language. I had a linguistics professor who spent her sabbaticals in Kenya, and when she went out to do her research, she up and … whoops, that’s another story. Sorry!). A broad overview of faeries gives you an idea of what kind of nature spirits the locals of any area believed in, because it reflects the climate, the environment, the history, and current events of the period in which the legends were formed.

On the other hand, a broad overview of the dragon myth around the world gives you an idea of what kind of wildlife was afoot, or the locals thought were afoot. Or they wanted to make sure their kids were probably freaked out so they’d stay in their version of the yard. Or the fireball in the sky was either attacking them or protecting them, depending on what else was going on at the time. (My copresenter, Jacquie Rogers, and I found dragons to be reflective of local norms, because depending on where you study, the mythical creatures are either a force for good or a force for bad, or both, depending on whether you’ve ticked them off or not.)

Anyway, the names may change and the situations may change, but whatever you call them, faeries and dragons have been both kind and mischievous, good and evil, sometimes a symbol and sometimes one of chaos. Jacquie and I decided to use the theme of the Silk Road, the historical routes in the Old World that traders used to move their silks and spices and what-not from the Far East and Middle East to Europe, because that’s most likely how the stories about faeries and dragons got spread around and changed and fitted to the particular culture they ended up.

As an example, the dragon myths we find in Europe have very little in common with those we find in the rest of the world (obviously, because otherwise, why in the world would we bother studying the subject?). By the time we get past the Mediterranean Sea, those dragons are distinctly different. In classical Greek culture, one of the earliest mentions of a dragon is from the Iliad, where Agamemnon is described as having a blue dragon motif on his sword belt and a three-headed dragon emblem on his breast plate. And of course, the references to the “sea-monster” or “pole serpent” in the Bible, the “leviathan” of the Biblical stories, seem to be very close to the idea of the dragon we see elsewhere.

Persia, the earlier name for Iran, has in many ways more in common with its neighbors to the east, which includes China and India. Unlike its Arabic-speaking neighbors – because Iranians/Persians speak Farsi, not Arabic – Persian mythology refers to angels as its nature spirits, although there are references to demons as well. One example is the Peri, a Persian faery referred to as a fallen angel, who can’t achieve paradise until they do penance.

Then there’s the Persian version of dragons, mentioned in Zoroastrian scripture, in which stories include both positive AND negative stories – remember, Persia is a gateway culture, with influences from both East and West, with very close ties to the Hindu culture. But I found a curious inversion, even commented on by comparative linguistic and folklore academics: Many things that are viewed as negative in Persian mythology is topsy-turvy positive in Hindu mythology, with names that are clearly connected, very close, but usually not exact, so their roots in Indo-European myths are pretty apparent.

As opposed to the dragon legends of the West, the dragons of the East are usually water-based, associated with rainfall and bodies of water as well as fertility, usually wingless, serpentine, often positive, often seen as an authority figure, and still very much part of contemporary culture. The Vedic version of the dragon, also known as a naga, is the personification of drought and enemy of Indra, the hero of Hindu sagas. Naga, also known as a snake-spirit, guarded great treasures, just like so many stories in Western myths about dragons. These forms of dragons can take human form and many ancient tribes claim to be descendants of nagas, especially from a union between a human hero and a feminine form of the snake called Nagini. Today, there are even tribes that are called Nagas. The Japanese word for long is “nagai.” Coincidence? You decide.

Going south, the earth spirits in Polynesia are also still going strong. The menehune are some of the most popular faeries of the region and are said to live deep in the forests and hidden valleys, granting wishes and helping those who are lost. Local legends say that the menehune built temples, fishponds, roads, canoes, and even houses. They are said to have lived in Hawaii long before the human settlers arrived, many centuries ago – which may remind you of the stories about the fae of the British isles.

This coming weekend, we’re going to try something a little different: for Sakura-con, the anime and manga convention, we’re going to approach the topic as a quiz show. Is it going to work? Who knows, but we might as well give it a try!